With the recent scare on the Ebola epidemic, awareness has been heightened at all levels and centers of healthcare. Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, your local community hospital, released information today to give the public insight into what is happening locally to prepare for a potential outbreak.
Patti Brown RN, Director of Infection Prevention/Employee Health & Environmental Services, and Clayton Radakovich, Safety and Compliance Coordinator answered a few key questions about Ebola and the preparations of Memorial Hospital.
What are some of the measures the hospital has in place for the spread of infectious diseases?
Memorial Hospital (MHSC) continuously analyzes and tests our emergency plan with meetings and community-wide drills that center around potential hazards such as this. We work side-by-side with the Wyoming State Department of Health, Sweetwater County Public Health, Sweetwater County Emergency Management, local EMS and Fire, and other emergency personnel to create a unified plan. In this case, all of that remains the same but with a more specific plan for potential quarantine.
MHSC has also begun an educational campaign for staff to keep them aware of our existing protocols for infectious disease to ensure that our staff is not only safe, but can be a resource for the community.
What is PPE and how is it used at Memorial Hospital?
PPE is Personal Protective Equipment. This can range from masks, gloves, and head covers to full-body suits, depending on your industry or the situation. In this case, we are talking about PPE used during an emergency plan for infectious disease. The PPE suits used by Memorial Hospital’s Decontamination Team cover head-to-toe, and are rated for infectious diseases of all nature. Used properly, they leave no skin exposed to environmental conditions. When dealing with any infectious disease, we follow CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines for appropriate protective wear. In this case, current guidelines state to wear two layers of gloves, and we follow these regulations strictly.
We also have strict facility protocol for donning and doffing of PPE suits when treating patients with serious infectious disease. The safety of our staff and patients is our top priority.
Do you have areas for possible quarantine and treatment of infected patients?
Yes, our facility is set up with a permanent decontamination area, as well as isolation rooms in all departments for patients with possible infectious diseases. Our staff is on heightened awareness to look for symptoms that may be Ebola-like and we have a Clinical Supervisor available 24 hours a day in case we need to enact our emergency plan.
The hospital is serving as the Incident Command center at this time for communication with all other healthcare and emergency partners so that we can maintain a unified plan and share information with the public.
What else should we know?
We know that there are many unanswered questions right now about Ebola. Although we need to raise our awareness as a community about infectious disease, we want you to feel comfortable knowing that all of your local healthcare and emergency partners are staying on top of this and are working day and night to make sure our emergency plan remains current and in-line with Federal and State protocol.
As with all infectious disease, the one thing we can do individually is practice proper hand-washing techniques to decrease the spread of all contagious illnesses.