In the past few weeks, you may have seen Dr. Irwin Redlener offering a calm, reasoned perspective on the Ebola virus to CNN viewers, in the New York Times, and a host of other media outlets. Dr. Redlener is an expert on disaster preparedness, an advisor to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on emergency planning, and a pediatrician who has practiced in some of the most impoverished and chaotic corners of the country and the world.
On Sat. Nov. 8 he will give a keynote address at the Schweitzer Leadership Conference focused on what we can learn from the Ebola crisis.
What can we expect to hear from Dr. Redlener? In an op-ed that has run on CNN.com and local news websites in Texas in the aftermath of a man’s death from the virus in that state, Redlener insisted that the federal government needs to step up funding for a program that helps hospitals prepare to deal with major disasters:
“First, we need to restore―if not increase―federal funding for the Hospital Preparedness Program,” he wrote. “The purpose of this program is to bolster hospital readiness to deal with major disasters, including serious epidemics. In 2003 and 2004, the program provided $515 million each year to fund preparedness initiatives in America’s approximately 5,000 hospitals. A decade later, funding is forecast to fall to $255 million — essentially half of what it had been.”
He refuses to feed into into hysteria about a looming Ebola epidemic in the U.S. and call for a ban on travel from Africa to the U.S. Instead, Dr. Redlener has consistently pointed out the flaws and potential danger of such a ban:
“If people are determined to thwart the travel ban,” Dr. Redlener said, “we won’t even know it because we will be forcing people to make what is, in their minds, a life and death decision and in desperation to do or say whatever is necessary to get here.”
In addition to his expertise in disaster preparedness and response, Dr. Redlener founded Children’s Health Fund in 1987 with music legend Paul Simon. The organization operates a fleet of 50 state-of-the-art mobile pediatric clinics that serve the poorest areas in 22 states and advocates nationally on policy issues related to pediatric public health.
With his diverse professional and medical expertise, his compassion, commitment to caring for the most vulnerable among us, and his straight-talking style, Dr. Redlener’s speech is a conference highlight you don’t want to miss.
We’re also proud to be honoring him with the 2014 Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism at a special ceremony on Nov. 7. The award is given annually to an individual whose life example has significantly mitigated the social determinants of health in the U.S. and/or abroad, and whose commitment to service influences and inspires others.
The conference is filling up quickly, so register here and we’ll see you on Nov. 8!