The potential for seeing an Ebola patient here in our region is very small, but our first obligation is to protect the public and make any and all preparations.
Since early August, all CDC information regarding Ebola has been shared with medical staff and Emergency Department staff, including online educational programs for clinical staff. Since the confirmation of the first Ebola patient in the United States on September 30, hospitals across the country, including OGH and BRMC, have been working closely with public health officials, including CDC, and have been providing important information to physicians and clinical staff.
UAHS recognizes that the health threat posed by Ebola commands media interest and public attention because the disease is life-threatening and there are currently no medical interventions (vaccines, medicines, etc.) to prevent or cure it. Public health officials have repeatedly stated, the threat-level of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. is extremely low because Ebola is not as easily spread as colds or flu and the U.S. has public health and medical resources and infrastructure to identify, isolate, and contain it.
As part of preparedness at OGH and BRMC, unannounced internal drills have been conducted simulating the arrival of a suspected Ebola patient. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and Ebola kits have been obtained by both hospitals. These kits include a new Isolation precautions sign that lists standard, contact and droplet precautions for any Ebola patient.
Educational materials have been developed and made available to the Emergency Department and nursing staff. Since September 22, patients presenting in the Emergency Departments of both hospitals have been asked about any recent travel history as per a directive of the New York State Department of Health.
Signage has been placed in the Emergency Departments at OGH and BRMC and physician offices stating: Please advise us immediately: if you traveled in the past 21 days to Africa OR had direct contact with any blood or body fluids from a patient with confirmed or suspected Ebola.
Ebola information has been added to the websites (public) and intranet sites (employees) of OGH and BRMC, which includes information from the CDC.
A UAHS committee continues to monitor preparation and advise regarding further decisions. The committee includes medical staff, infection prevention personnel, clinical staff, registration, environmental services.
As with any potential public health threat UAHS will continue to work in close cooperation with public health agencies to offer calm, clear and consistent information to the public. We will continue to prepare responsibility for any potential public safety threat to our community.