Toledo health department, hospitals prepared for possibility of Ebola

ProMedica says Ebola procedure exceeds CDC standards

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Staff at the University of Toledo Medical Center practiced emergency procedure on Wednesday, the same day they learned a woman later diagnosed with Ebola had been in Ohio.

“The number one priority, first and foremost, is ‘can we put on protective equipment safely? Can we take it off safely? Can we avoid exposing ourselves unnecessarily? Because what we do know is that this is when most of the contamination occurs,” said UTMC Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. Kris Brickman.

Hospital staff say Wednesday's activities were scheduled and began before they learned of the newest case. Doctors and nurses produced a video for staff to watch later which outlined how staff should react if an Ebola patient shows up in the emergency room or elsewhere on hospital grounds.

“We're in disaster mode right now because actually preparedness for potential Ebola exposures, patients, require us to be extensively prepared across our entire institution,” said Dr. Brickman.

Dr. Brickman says should an Ebola patient show up at UTMC, the hospital would immediately contact the CDC and work with them on containment and treatment.

He says an outbreak here in Toledo is highly unlikely but the hospital has already been prepping just in case there is a possible threat of Ebola.

"It has been a virtual nonstop focus for us that we're changing things hour by hour, not drastic changes but tweaking things once we find there's a better way we can put on this gown, a better way we can take this off or there's a better way we can mist ourselves," said Brickman.

Dr. Brickman says he feels the UTMC is ahead of the curve in preparation because of the training facility they have but he says they will still have more work to do. UTMC will continue additional drills Friday.

UTMC is not the only Toledo area hospital preparing for the possibility of an Ebola case in the area though. ProMedica has a task force set up to deal with the virus.

ProMedica Toledo Hospital Vice President of Patient Safety Dr. Brian Kaminski says all hospital employees are trained using a "universal protocol," which exceeds CDC standards. In the event of a case of Ebola, Kaminski says healthcare workers would wear a hooded suit with a respirator, rather than just a face mask.

"We're going to be doing more simulation just to ensure that our staff, while understandably scared and worried right now can go through the exercise through the use of practice and simulation rather than having to confront it for the first time when a patient arrives," said Kaminski.

At a press conference the same day, Toledo-Lucas County Health Department Director Dr. David Grossman admitted national efforts to contain Ebola have not been as successful as many had hoped, but said the local health department is ready for the virus should it come to the area.

"I don't think we need to panic as a nation," Dr. Grossman said Wednesday.

Grossman stressed that tactics being used nationally to contain the disease have been successful in the past.

"In theory, you don't spread the disease and you're not a risk to those around you until you have a fever," said Grossman. "However, as soon as that fever is there, you are a potential spreader of that disease."

Grossman says it's very important which stage of the disease the nurse was in while she was on that flight from Cleveland to Dallas.

"The variable in the questions right now, and I don't have the answer and we hope to have it soon, is was this person developing the disease that it could have been spread while she was on that airplane," said Dr. Grossman.

Dr. Grossman says Wednesday's news changes the way his office will work going forward.

"I think we do need to step up a little be to see that our ability to have isolation and the proper protection of the caregivers and all in case there is a case, really has to be a 110 percent," said Dr. Grossman.

Grossman also said the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department has plans in place should they hear anyone in the Toledo area has been infected or in contact with an infected person.

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