Health Team

Hospital training key for Ebola preparedness

Posted October 1, 2014
Updated October 5, 2014

— 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.


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  • xylem01 Oct 2, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I blame that on the American work ethic not the TSA.

  • sinenomine Oct 2, 2014

    Train all you want, the system is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain - as is demonstrated to a fault by the failure of people at the hospital in Texas to take appropriate action when American patient zero presented there with Ebola. I really don't think Ebola will become a pandemic in this country like it has in Africa but lives will be lost and it will be worse as long as mistakes continue to be made such as were made in Dallas.

  • Thomas Fenske Oct 2, 2014
    user avatar

    It isn't just hospitals. This guy should have been flagged for isolation and checking the minute he got off the plane.
    Some CNN reporter who came back from reporting in Liberia said they were fully expecting some kind of screening after customs. There was none. They even mentioned it and the TSA agents were kind of, "yeah, I think we're supposed to do something..." but nobody had a clue what.

  • Maurice Pentico Jr. Oct 2, 2014
    user avatar

    I worked in the military to train hospital workers to handle chemical weapons patients.... it was a total and utter disaster.
    In a matter of minutes... most of the ER staff had contaminated themselves, and were no longer capable of treating..... the same is likely with ebola.

  • Danny22 Oct 1, 2014

    It is grossly unfair to send 3,000 soldiers to a foreign country to work with ebola. That is not a soldier's job. Volunteers should have been sent. and Yes, there would have been enough volunteers.