Hospital training key for Ebola preparedness
Posted October 1, 2014
Updated October 5, 2014
DALLAS — With news of the first case of Ebola reported in the United States, any hospital in the country – including North Carolina – could be the next one dealing with the illness.
That's why local hospitals, like WakeMed in Raleigh, have trained for that very scenario and have action plans in place to safely and effectively deal with infectious diseases.
At WakeMed, for example, employees have been training since last month and will continue to do in October.
The training allows staff to get better acquainted with personal protective equipment, such as thicker gowns and protective suits, while performing patient care.
The suits consist of three layers of gloves, sealed seams, a hood and air filter to protect healthcare workers against contact with a patient's bodily fluids and airborne germs.
In addition to the protective equipment, a plan is in place should a patient with an illness like Ebola show up in emergency room.
One of the first steps is to establish an isolation area. Screening every patient with questions about symptoms and international travel is also important.
Still, despite the precautions, the emergency plan – and those protective layers – are not fool-proof.
The biggest risk for contamination can come in taking off the protective gear. A simple IV needle could also puncture it.
Simulation training helps staff avoid mistakes and adapt to the extra layers.
WakeMed's off-site electronic intensive care unit can accomplish many tasks which reduce staff contact with an infected patient.
"(Staff) can come in with a camera and communicate with the patient. They can track vital signs remotely," said Nathan Funk, WakeMed's environmental health and safety officer, said Wednesday.
Training is key to helping the patient and protecting everyone else.
"It really helps to calm everybody, because they know what to do in a situation," said WakeMed's executive director of emergency services, Barb Bisset.