Ebola Preparedness

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Ebola Preparedness

Monday, October 20, 2014

In the recent wake of information surrounding Ebola incidents, Centra  has been diligent in planning with our community partners and are prepared to respond to a threat of Ebola should it arrive in our community.

Centra’s level of preparation and specific action plans that guide our ability to provide appropriate care to a person with suspected or confirmed Ebola, or any other infectious disease process is fluid in nature and reflects a continual changing set of proven practices.  During this time of heightened concern and uncertainty, we remain committed to ensuring safe, timely and appropriate care for our community, our patients, our medical staff, employees and volunteers.

Through planning efforts, preparedness practices and ongoing disease prevention measures, a team of physicians, nurse leaders and executives has identified where suspected Ebola patients could access our system. The Emergency Department at Lynchburg General Hospital has the necessary equipment, personal protective equipment, negative air pressure rooms, and clinical expertise to serve as the intake area for Centra should a person with Ebola symptoms present for care.  A Travel Risk Assessment questionnaire has been added to our electronic medical record.  This assessment is being performed during initial triage on all patients in every Centra Emergency Department location– Lynchburg General Hospital, Southside Community Hospital, and Bedford Memorial Hospital.   A designated team of responders will be created to respond to any Centra Medical Group facilities to assess and ultimately transfer potential Ebola patients to the Lynchburg Emergency Department. 

Our level of preparation and specific action plan is being reviewed and revised continuously as we receive almost daily updates from various sources such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). Our staff and physicians will continue to conduct practice drills in applying and removing the protective equipment that would be required while caring for an Ebola patient. The personal protective equipment required in providing direct care to an Ebola patient is a much higher level of complexity than our current isolation procedures and requires additional training and competency validation. We require every employee who provides direct patient care to demonstrate specific skill sets and competencies on an annual basis for isolation, and protective gear application/removal. Additional education is being provided to Centra staff as needed to care for Ebola patients.

Unless there is travel history to a West African country or direct contact with an Ebola patient, the chances of contracting this disease is very low.  People with Ebola generally are not infectious until they are sick. Symptoms of Ebola include fever, headache, weakness, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or hemorrhage.

Information and updates regarding Ebola changes frequently, and as plans and processes continue to develop; releases of information will be forthcoming.