Beginning months ago, upon initial reports of the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa, Duncan Regional Hospital disaster preparedness professionals and our infection preventionist began working to ensure that our organization could respond well and with high-quality standards. As always, our goals are to provide the highest level of care to our patients and to ensure our team members are safe and well-trained to respond to any situation.
The spread of Ebola to the United States, and specifically to Dallas, hits very close to home. You are likely aware the virus has now been contracted by two health care professionals who provided care to the Ebola-infected patient. We want to ensure and reassure the public, as well as our team members, that we are well-prepared. In addition, we are continually monitoring the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) website and news conferences for up-to-the-minute news alerts, protocol updates and guidelines.
Here are the actions we have taken so far:
• Public-facing notices asking presenting patients to self-report travel to West Africa are posted at patient access locations from the Emergency Room to Solutions clinics and in every entry point to care within the DRH system. Triage guidelines and important phone numbers are posted in easy view of our admitting professionals and we know when and how to immediately quarantine a patient. Patients are verbally asked specific screening questions as well.
• Isolation rooms have been identified and prepared.
• Personal protective equipment kits are positioned throughout DRH. We also have several hazardous management suits available should the situation require them.
• ER and ICU nurses have been trained – and are participating in drills – to ensure proper suiting-up and removal of personal protective equipment.
• Our Family Care clinics and other patient care facilities have been trained regarding steps to take if an Ebola-infected patient presents there.
• We are working with our healthcare partners within Stephens County to ensure they know how to identify and treat an Ebola-infected patient.
• A mandatory training class educating all of our employees about the Ebola virus is being held, to be completed by October 31, 2014.
• Our Ebola Preparedness team meets daily, and participates in weekly live stream webinars to communicate with other health care facilities to receive the most up-to-date information possible.
We realize our employees are our community’s front line of defense in the fight to contain this devastating disease and we applaud them for willingness and bravery. We will continue to do everything within our power to protect our patients and staff. No one knows how long the Ebola threat will last, but we vow to remain vigilant and as prepared as humanly possible.