It’s impossible to open a newspaper or go online without being bombarded by the Ebola case in Dallas, Texas. While the U.S. healthcare system has been prepared to handle Ebola patients long before September 24th, the threat that Ebola could come to the U.S. during this time was not fully realized. Now that we have our first case in the U.S., public concern has shifted, and moving forward education of the public and healthcare workers on Ebola is key.
Hospitals in the U.S. already carry the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed to handle the Ebola virus and other infections. The CDC offers a handout on the correct sequence for putting on and removing PPE. More general information on PPE is available from the CDC here.
The CDC also offers detailed information to help hospitals prepare for a possible Ebola case, including:
- Detailed Hospital Checklist for Ebola Preparedness
- Top 10 Ebola Response Planning Tips: Ebola Readiness Self-Assessment for State and Local Public Health Officials
- Case Definition for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and CDC highlighted their detailed checklist for Ebola in a recent webinar for hospital emergency managers, infection control officers, hospital leadership and clinical staff. It outlines practical and specific suggestions to ensure hospitals are prepared to detect possible Ebola cases, protect employees and respond appropriately.
When it comes to testing for Ebola, Dennis Matricardi, MS, SM (ASCP) DLM, Clinical Analyst at MD Buyline advises:
All laboratory testing should go through your local health department. Since hospitals should not contact the CDC directly, now is the time to make sure your hospital has a relationship with your state health department and the appropriate specimen shipping containers from your local health department. You don’t want the first time you talk with your health department to be when an Ebola patient is in your ER. Educate the lab staff as to what type of specimen to draw, how to ship the sample, etc.
For detailed information on specimen collection, transport and testing please visit the CDC’s webpage “Interim Guidance for Specimen Collection, Transport, Testing, and Submission.”
Although the media hype surrounding the first case has led to public concern over the U.S.’s ability to handle the disease, healthcare workers know our healthcare system has proven itself as more than capable. Not only are we prepared to deliver high quality care, we are able to contain and treat the disease.