Monongahela Valley Hospital Prepared for Unlikely Chance of Ebola
(October 24, 2014 - Carroll Township, Pa.)
From left, Diane L. Cooper, RN, MSN, director of Quality Improvement & Risk Management, and Chris Banish, risk management coordinator, demonstrate how to properly put on and take off personal protective equipment while Linda Zidek, Pre-Hospital Coordinator, explains the steps.
Information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health:
What should I do if I think I might have Ebola?
The only people at risk in the current outbreak are those who traveled to Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone in the past three weeks and might have had direct contact with a person showing symptoms or an animal infected with Ebola.
If you recently traveled from one of the affected African countries and develop fever and/or other Ebola related symptoms within three weeks after leaving that country, limit your contact with other people, seek medical care right away, and tell your doctor about your recent travel. Make sure you call the doctor's office or emergency room before going and tell them about your recent travel and symptoms so that arrangements can be made, if needed, to prevent others from becoming sick.
How can I protect myself against Ebola?
If you are in or plan to travel to any of the West African countries (i.e. Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea) affected by the Ebola outbreak, you can protect yourself by doing the following:
- Washing hands frequently
- Avoiding contact with anyone’s blood and body fluids - particularly someone who is sick
- Avoiding West African hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated
- Not handling items that may contain an infected person's blood or body fluids
- Not touching the body of someone who has died from Ebola
- Not touching bats, monkeys, gorillas or chimpanzees or their blood and fluids
- Not eating "bushmeat," wild animals that are hunted for food
- Seeking medical care immediately if you develop Ebola symptoms
*It should be noted that CDC advises against non-essential travel.
Ebola is new to the United States and is a particularly challenging disease, so hospitals need to always be prepared to treat potential patients and protect medical staff.
Monongahela Valley Hospital's staff is trained to deal with emergencies and crises of all kinds, and has recently undergone special training in screening patients and in putting on and removing personal protective equipment (PPE), shown here.
Using the correct disinfectant wipes and practicing hand hygiene in phases while removing equipment and using the buddy system to observe and ensure the correct procedures are vital to preventing the spread of the virus from someone exhibiting symptoms.
"For the public, it is important to remember that Ebola poses little risk to the general population - a person infected with the Ebola virus is not contagious until symptoms appear," said Kathy Liberatore, RN, BSN, CIC, Infection Prevention & Control Manager at MVH. "The virus is only spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of a person who has been infected and only after they begin to show symptoms. Unlike the flu, Ebola is not spread through the air."
Mrs. Liberatore said that an important step everyone can take is to get a flu shot since the flu and Ebola both share early symptoms, such as fever and body aches.
In the unlikely event that a patient presents at MVH with Ebola symptoms, staff would stabilize and make arrangements to transfer that patient to a larger medical facility to accommodate the extreme isolation conditions and dedicated lab required.
"Every hospital has plans in place to care for patients with infectious diseases and are continuously updating their policies," Mrs. Liberatore added. "Hospitals are an important part of this nation's readiness infrastructure and take their responsibilities very seriously."
Since July, the American Hospital Association has linked hospitals to the latest information about Ebola and MVH formed an Ebola Preparedness Team. This team trained staff to screen for Ebola symptoms and to safely isolate and treat patients suspected of having Ebola.
Visitors will notice the signage that has been hung throughout the hospital to educate the public about Ebola symptoms.
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