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Published on July 17, 2013

Chenango Memorial and Public Health conclude collaborative program to prevent pertussis in newborns

UHS News Release
Release:  Immediately
Contact:  Linda Lewis-Moors, 337-4093 or
July 17, 2013

UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital and Chenango County Public Health Conclude Cocooning Project

Chenango County Public Health Department and UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital’s Women’s Health and Maternity departments recently concluded a collaborative pilot project to help prevent the spread of pertussis (commonly known as whooping cough).  Called cocooning, the goal of the project was to vaccinate close contacts of newborns against the disease, using the Tdap vaccine. To meet this goal, the Health Department provided Chenango Memorial with both the vaccine and the tools to administer the vaccine, while the hospital offered and administered the vaccine to parents and close contacts of the newborn, free of charge. The program began January 14, 2011, and originally was intended to continue for one year. Based on its success and the availability of pertussis vaccine from New York State Department of Health, the program lasted until June 3, 2013. As Barbara McCarty, RN, BSN, Immunization Coordinator, Chenango County Department of Health, stated, “This was a voluntary program.  Chenango Memorial Hospital embraced it and vaccinated 764 parents/close contacts of newborns in the 2.5 year time span of the program.”

Cocooning was a pilot program in New York State, and UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital was the first hospital to take part in the initiative.  In a letter to Dr. Michael Trevisani, the hospital’s Vice President Medical Affairs/ CMO, Ms. McCarty stated, “I…want to compliment your maternity staff on the great job they did by becoming champions of the Tdap initiative and working very hard to ensure that parents of newborns … were vaccinated against pertussis.” She also commented on how well the partnership between the hospital and the health department worked having “two agencies …work together for the common good of the community we serve.”

July 18, 2012, Governor Cuomo signed a law requiring all general hospitals with newborn nurseries or obstetric services to offer and provide vaccination against pertussis to parents and anticipated caregivers of all newborns being treated in the hospital following their births.  This law became effective January 14, 2013.  UHS Women’s Health Center and the maternity department at the hospital continue to offer the vaccine as do all the UHS Primary Care practices. 

Pertussis (whooping cough) is an acute infectious disease which is highly communicable, and infants and young children are particularly at risk.  The disease can result in death, and the majority of deaths occur in infants less than 3 months of age, too young to be fully vaccinated. That is why cocooning is recommended.  Pertussis vaccination is recommended for children, teens and adults, including pregnant women.

Dr. Trevisani thanked the local public health department for working so closely with the hospital to provide protection to local newborns and others at risk.  “We value our long-standing relationship with Public Health and look forward to more collaborations in the future.”

UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital is a member of UHS, a locally owned, not-for-profit, 916-bed hospital and health care system serving the Greater Binghamton region from more than 40 locations around New York’s Southern Tier.

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