It was cold and rainy outside, but inside the room was packed for the Morris Park Town Hall meeting on the 'Legionnaire Disease Cluster'. People came, had questions, and got little answers from city officials who showed up. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. asked , ' Why is Legionnaire's Disease only in the Bronx? Why if the cooling towers were cleaned weeks ago do we not know where it is coming from? Finally, is the city doing all that can be done.
The answers BP Diaz received from Dr. Mary Bassett the NYC Department of Health Commissioner were - Legionnaire's Disease has been around for many years now, we have identified the contaminated cooling towers, and we have wad them cleaned. As to Diaz's question of why only is Legionnaire's Disease found in the Bronx Dr. Bassett said it is found in other boroughs also starting with Coop-City and there was a roar since Coop-City is in the Bronx. She then went on to say there was a cluster in Queens and in mid-town Manhattan. When asked why of the 250 - 300 cases projected for 2015 more than half are coming from the Bronx there was no answer, just statistics to move away from the question.
New York City Public Advocate Leticia James said - We need answers from the commissioner on the start date of September 21st, and what is the source of this cluster? Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj may of had the best question of the night however when he asked - If the city started investigating this cluster on September 21st, why then were the elected officials (like himself) who represent the Morris Park area not told on September 21st, but instead learned about it one week later from news reports. Why did the city not inform the elected officials? Gjonaj stopped short there, saying that constituents were calling his office, and he (or any other elected official) could not give them any answers until the city went public with the information a week later. State Senator Jeff Klein wanted to know if state laws need to be instituted to handle the matter which the city can not.
Councilman Jimmy Vacca questioned the inspection process, while Assemblyman Michael Benedetto said it is a time to be calm and rational. However Benedetto said that he was not feeling well the past few days and was going to have himself checked out tomorrow for Legionnaire's Disease. Dr. Bassett spoke after the elected officials saying that all questions would be answered, Legionnaire's Disease is treatable if caught in the early stages, and that this time the city had a listing of where the cooling towers were so they could be quickly inspected. She added that there were 13 cases of Legionnaire's Disease, one death, 4 people released from the hospitals with 8 still admitted. The incubation period of 2 - 11 days from September 21st will soon to be over. so she expects no new cases of Legionnaire's Disease in the Morris Park cluster.
In the first outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease in the South Bronx Lincoln Hospital (a city hospital) was a focal point for the Legionnaire's Disease outbreak with a contaminated cooling tower, but it was determined by the city not to be the cause of the outbreak. In the Morris Park Legionnaire's Disease cluster Jacobi Hospital (a city hospital) had a contaminated cooling tower as did Lehman High School (a city public high school). there were 13 other cooling towers found to be contaminated in the Morris Park area, and I am sure one of those other 13 cooling towers will get the blame for this cluster. Mind you that all cooling towers in New York City had to be cleaned and inspected as of August 6th by the order of the Health Commissioner and the City Council. The Department of Education representative said that all Department of Education cooling towers are treated (not tested) every two weeks. When questions from the audience who lined up first in the middle of the room, which was then divided into two line at each end of the room. the meeting lasted for over two and a half hours with many people still shaking their heads as to their safety. State Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj have arraigned with Prohealth Urgent Care, located at 1049 Morris Park Avenue to offer evaluations and treatment starting Friday October 2nd through Sunday October 11th . Co-pays are going to be waived for this time period.
Above Left - BP Diaz leads the questioning of city officials.
Above Right - Public Advocate James has the next question.
Below Left - State Senator Jeff Klein wants some answers.
Below Right - Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj wants to know what took so long to tell the local elected officials.
Above - The panel of city officials which included NYC Department of Health Commissioner of Health Dr. Mary Bassett, her Deputy Commissioner, representatives of the Department of Education, and other city agencies.
Below - Two of the several slides that were projected about the Legionnaire's Disease cluster in Morris Park.
The line of attendees on hand in the center of the room who had questions was so long that it had to be made into two shorter lines on each side of the room.