Archive for category Health

Dallas sheriff’s officers entered ebola quarantined apartment

Tanya Eiserer, WFAA October 2, 2014

DALLAS — Five members of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department who were briefly inside the apartment where a man with Ebola stayed have been temporarily put on leave.‎

“They’re very concerned,” said Christopher Dyer, president of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Association. ‎”Their families are concerned. You’ve got to go home and tell your spouse, ‘Hey, I was just inside this house where a guy had Ebola.'”

The three deputies, a sergeant, and a lieutenant accompanied the head of Dallas County Health and Human Services Department and a doctor into the apartment late Wednesday night. They had gone there on the orders of Sheriff Lupe Valdez to get the people inside to sign a court order forbidding them from leaving the apartment.

Dyer said deputies should never have been involved to begin with, because he considers it a federal issue and not a local matter.

“My anger is really with the feds,” he said. “Let’s move that family. Let’s move everybody out of that building. I don’t care if it’s overkill. Let’s do overkill. I don’t think sending a few deputies in there is the right course of action.‎”

What really raised everyone’s concern was when the order came down Thursday morning that the squad cars the deputies were in Wednesday were being taken out of service, Dyer said. Those cars are reportedly being cleaned.

Dyer said deputies – both those that went inside and those that didn’t – were told to bag up their uniforms and boots and turn them in. He said he contacted Valdez’s second in command, asking that the deputies be put on leave and be evaluated by medical staff.

The CDC has reiterated several times this week that being near someone who has contracted the Ebola virus doesn’t mean that you’ll get infected. The disease isn’t contagious in the same ways as the flu or common cold. You have to be in contact with a patient’s body fluids or blood, and you have to have a break in your skin or have the fluids touch your eyes, mouth, or nose to contract the virus.

According to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Association president, the plan for now is that a representative with the CDC is going to speak with the deputies and their families to help allay their concerns.

“My concern is for the deputies and their families, and I want to see Dallas County do everything that they can to alleviate their concerns,” Dyer said.

The deputies are expected to ‎return to work in a few days, Dyer said.

Carmen Castro, a sheriff’s department spokeswoman, responded via email about the squad cars.

“There is no contamination,” she wrote. “We are being cautious so our guys are more comfortable.‎”

She did not respond to followup questions about the deputies being put on leave.

Dyer was one of the deputies on scene Wednesday night, but he did not go inside. He said the family of the Ebola victim told the deputies that went inside that they were running out of food.

“What kind of planning is that for the feds?” Dyer said. “You quarantine them, but you’re not going to make sure they have food?”

Dyer said one of the supervisors got sandwiches and drinks for the family from a police prostitution diversion initiative that was going on nearby. His understanding is that food has since been delivered to the family.

Deputies are currently stationed outside the family’s apartment to ensure that they don’t leave.


Obamacare Privacy Fears Loom

obamacare super computer system 'the hub'

Dubbed “The Hub,” the $267 million computer system built by a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc. is one of the most important determiners of whether the Affordable Care Act succeeds.

The biggest overhaul of the US healthcare system in 50 years has spawned one of the most complex computer projects in the government’s history.

Dubbed the Hub, the $267 million computer system built by a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) is one of the most important determiners of whether the Affordable Care Act succeeds. The hub ties together the databases of seven US agencies, ranging from the Internal Revenue Service to the Peace Corps, to determine which Americans can buy medical coverage and get US subsidies through the new government-run insurance exchanges.

Marilyn Tavenner, the Medicare chief whose agency will oversee the hub, is set to report in a congressional hearing today that the system’s construction is complete and testing will be finished by Sept. 1, a month before the exchanges open. Security, a subject scrutinized by Republicans, will be assured through strict rules on standards that all parties who use the hub must sign, US officials said.

“We have been engaged in a great deal of discussions to make sure these standards are incredibly strong,” said Chiquita Brooks-Lasure, the deputy director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, in a telephone interview.

About 7 million people may seek coverage through the exchanges, the Congressional Budget Office has said. The hub’s job is to confirm personal characteristics that include their identity, citizenship, income and family size — even whether they’re incarcerated — as a way to determine eligibility. The system also will weed out applicants who may be able to access other US health programs, including current or former military members and Peace Corps volunteers.

The system’s broad reach has raised concerns among Republicans who have said they fear consumer privacy could be threatened by computer hackers who target the system, sloppy handling of equipment used to access the data or, more nefariously, by government officials who may misuse the information that’s collected.

“It’s information on 300 million Americans, all compiled in one place — what could go wrong?” said Representative James Lankford (R-OK), presiding over today’s hearing, in a telephone interview. “They’re going to have to assure a lot of Americans that their information is going to be held safe, and that there’s a purpose for that.”

Lawmakers and critics of Obamacare point to incidents involving the insurers that will be sending data into the hub and the government. In the most recent example, WellPoint Inc. (WLP) last week paid $1.7 million to settle potential violations of US privacy laws when a company website left the health data of 612,402 customers unprotected over the Internet.

Some of the concerns may be misguided, Brooks-Lasure said. For instance, the hub can only access information about potential enrollees and there’s no central storage area for data, she said. It is designed to serve as a sort of central nervous system for the exchanges, using software levers to route eligibility queries from the online marketplaces to the appropriate US agencies, and then back with the needed data.

The hub was developed by Quality Software Services Inc. of Bethesda, Maryland, which has received $49.5 million since 2011 to do the work, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government. Last year QSSI was acquired by Minnetonka, Minnesota-based UnitedHealth, the nation’s largest health insurer…

Still, the hub will be “for lack of a better term, a hacking target,” he said in a telephone interview.

Tavenner, the chief of the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services, will defend the safety of the system before Congress today, according to prepared testimony obtained by Bloomberg.


Editor’s Note: Yup…about as secure as the notion that the IRS is non-political…


The informational and educational pamphlet series is now available for Kindle and iPad. Click here to find out more…

Tags: , ,