Board 1 Cabinet Hears Of Flu Precautions, Windmills
The topic of the H1N1 strain of the influenza virus was discussed at October’s Community Board 1 cabinet meeting, not for the first and doubtless not the last time. Philip Manning, director of pharmacy at Mount Sinai Queens Hospital and also its operations section chief of preparatory organization, should the strain of influenza become pandemic, addressed meeting attendees at Kaufman Astoria Studios, delivering vital information about H1N1. Other speakers with other topics came after him, including a representative of the city Department of Human Resources; Felix Okolo from the city Department of Transportation, and Art Cronson of Con Edison who brought word on windmills and rebates.
Manning began by reminding his listeners that H1N1 is a serious condition, made so because a sufficient number of people have died of it. By the end of September, 27 states, including nearly all the southern half of the lower 48, were reporting widespread flu activity. He said that both the seasonal flu shot that is available every October and the H1N1 shots that will begin to be available later this month should be administered to all children and pregnant women. When asked about asthmatic children or kids taking certain steroid medications, he said they should be included because they shouldn’t be left unprotected and can’t get any form of influenza from the shots themselves. Pregnant women who are inoculated pass the effect to their unborn children, which is particularly advantageous, he said. These unborn will be protected after birth; but according to current medical practice, the newborn without their mothers’ inoculations should not receive them directly before they are six months old and would thus be unprotected for that interval.
Manning said that if and when H1N1 activity takes an “uptick”, a significant stage will be reached at the hospital, because at that time treatment trailers and the staff to maintain them will be set up just outside the main building. Those coming to the hospital because they believe they’ve contracted the flu will be directed to the trailers by “greeters”, who are there to keep them from entering the building and bringing in possible contamination. Of course, personnel both inside the building and in the trailers would be immunized, since Mount Sinai Queens mandates that anyone working there must receive the proper shots. (As far as those classified as healthcare workers are concerned, all such workers in New York state are compelled by law to be immunized for this emergency.) When asked if such a protective greeting extends to patients brought to the hospital by ambulance, Manning said that wouldn’t be necessary because such patients would have been screened by ambulance personnel.
He said in answer to a question that Mount Sinai Queens is certainly feeling the pressure brought on by the closing of other hospitals such as St. John’s, and it is bound to be felt anew when mass H1N1 immunizations begin to be administered in the hospital’s outpatient clinic.
Carlos Infante spoke of the Department of Human Resources’ $200 back-to-school grants and how the department was trying to include all those eligible for them. It would be unfortunate if those who could take advantage of the grants did not because they believed that they were no longer available now that the school year has begun, he said, because this is not the case. During a 90-day period that began in August, the grants can be applied for. That period has now been shortened considerably, but is still good until some time in November.
The transportation report from Okolo concentrated on some street crossing innovations. One, a pilot program for countdown signals, is in effect on Steinway Street at a total of 24 intersections between 30th and 34th Avenues. It might or might not be expanded, Okolo said. The other is a pedestrian interval program being tested at other intersections: it provides pedestrians 10 seconds for unimpeded crossing at high-concentration thoroughfares before turning vehicles are allowed to proceed.
Cronson said that Con Edison is one of the investors in the building of some 100 windmills in the Atlantic Ocean, beginning 13 miles off the coast at Far Rockaway in Southern Queens. Construction might begin in a little more than two years. Each windmill would be about the height of the Washington Monument (more than 500 feet), Cronson said, and the total power generated could match that of a medium-sized, land-based plant. He also described the rebate program for small businesses and residences (homes and condominiums, but not apartments), aimed at reducing the power load. Businesses using fewer than 100 kilowatts yearly could call in Con Ed inspectors to search for and recommend ways their power output could be lowered, and simply by doing so would be given four compact fluorescent light bulbs. Residents could earn rebates from the purchase of more efficient air conditioners and thermostats. The online description is at www.coned.com/energyefficiency.
On the subject of air conditioners, Dan Aliberti of Queens Independent Living Center said that QILC’s offer of free units to needy persons within the Community Board 1 district is still in effect. Also, the public is invited to QILC’s annual meeting, being held Wednesday, October 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the H&R Block office at 36-09 30th Ave.