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Lawmakers Call for Joint Hearings on State's Ebola Protocol

Ask Senate, House leaders to have state health department brief legislators, public
October 15, 2014
Democrat Newsroom

In response to today’s report that a healthcare worker who recently visited family in Ohio was diagnosed with Ebola upon returning to Texas, Democratic State Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) and ranking House Health Committee member Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Cleveland) called on House and Senate leaders to hold a joint health committee hearing on state protocol for managing Ebola infections.

The letter’s text is below:

Dear Speaker Batchelder and President Faber:

With the news breaking that a patient infected with the Ebola virus very recently visited the state of Ohio, we are calling upon the House and Senate leadership to convene a joint meeting of the health committees of both chambers. We feel it is imperative that the new leadership of the Ohio Department of Health brief the legislature and citizens on public health protocols with regard to Ebola in Ohio.

As the executive agency tasked with protecting public well-being, the Department of Health must maintain robust, comprehensive protocols in the event that Ohioans are exposed to a deadly virus. While it is important not to raise unnecessary alarm, we are troubled by the tone of this week’s conference call by state health officials in which they seemed more focused on downplaying the possibility of an Ebola outbreak in Ohio than on communicating protocols for preventing the spread of the disease in our state.

A joint committee hearing between the two chambers’ respective health committees should provide Director Hodges and his staff at the Department of Health with an appropriate venue in which to communicate to lawmakers, health providers, and the public on what active steps the department is taking to prepare for an Ebola outbreak.

Time is of the essence. We strongly urge the joint committee meeting be scheduled with all due haste.

Sincerely,

Representative Robert F. Hagan

House District 58

Representative Nickie J. Antonio

Ranking Member, House Health & Aging Committee

House District 13

Cc:  Representative Tracy Maxwell Heard, House Minority Leader

       Representative Lynn Wachtmann, Chair of House Health & Aging Committee

       Senator Shannon Jones, Chair of Senate Medicaid, Health and Human Services Committee

       Richard Hodges, Director of the Ohio Department of Health