Tags: Ebola Outbreak | Emerging Threats | Exclusive Interviews | MidPoint | Betsey McCaughey | superbugs | hospitals

Betsey McCaughey: Why $200M for Ebola but Not for US Hospitals?

By    |   Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 08:08 PM

Drug-resistant "superbugs" in U.S. hospitals kill more than 23,000 Americans a year, but funding for the problem is a fraction of the amount President Barack Obama wants to combat Ebola, health policy expert and former New York Lt. Gov. Betsey McCaughey told Newsmax TV on Tuesday.

Ebola has claimed just over 2,000 lives in the latest outbreak in western Africa.

The president's $200 million Ebola-treatment request "seems oversized compared with what he's willing to help [U.S.] patients and hospitals with," McCaughey told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.

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"He's allocated a puny $30 million to stop the superbugs that are raging though American hospitals, killing over 23,000 people a year, killing them year after year, killing them right here at home, killing our patients, our spouses, our children in these hospitals. So, if the president is ready to fight infectious disease, we need the help."

McCaughey discussed some of the infectious agents plaguing U.S. hospitals — especially non-profit medical facilities that don't have adequate resources.

"We're talking about CRE, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the 'nightmare bacteria,'" she said. "We're talking about Clostridium difficle colitis, which many of your viewers already know about because someone in their family has already gotten it. We're talking about the dreaded MRSA or VRE.

"These are all drug-resistant bacterial infections you get after you go into the hospital, and the single biggest risk factor is what room you're put in," he said. "It's the luck of the draw, but the fact is, if you're put in a room where a preceding patient . . . had one of these bugs, your risk of getting it is double.

"Disinfecting these rooms should be the number-one priority. That's why the hospitals need money."

McCaughey said that according to research, "over half the surfaces in a patient's room are left untouched when one patient is discharged and the next patient is put in that room, so [if] someone treated in that room had one of these dreadful superbugs, you are in line to get it."

"That is the truth, and the fact is that the same $200 million [requested for Ebola treatment] could outfit over half the not-for-profit hospitals in the U.S. with the equipment that's already available — hydrogen peroxide misters, xenon ultraviolet machines.

"We have several technologies that will literally eradicate the superbugs from these hospital rooms, but hospitals don't have the money to buy them," she said.

McCaughey said there's something of a split in the age of Obamacare between for-profit hospitals and nonprofits.

"The fact is the for-profit hospitals are doing really well under Obamacare. Their profits are way up, in some cases up 50 percent. But not-for-profit hospitals are skating right near bankruptcy – many, many of them. It costs somewhere between $80,000 and $125,000 to buy one of these machines that disinfects hospital rooms in a matter of minutes between patients."

She added that up-front investment, for hospitals able to afford it, "pays off very well because treating these hospital infections, these horrible superbugs, adds about $35 billion a year to the nation's healthcare tab. They're not only deadly, they're expensive."

"But the hospitals still need upfront help buying these machines, and if the president is willing to step up and stop infectious disease, I hope he will lend a hand to the hospitals and patients right here at home."

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Drug-resistant "superbugs" in U.S. hospitals kill more than 23,000 Americans a year, but funding for the problem is a fraction of the amount President Barack Obama wants to combat Ebola, health policy expert and former New York Lt. Gov. . . .
Betsey McCaughey, superbugs, hospitals, Ebola
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2014-08-09
Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 08:08 PM
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