Health Team

Fayetteville hospital holds extensive Ebola drill

Posted October 20, 2014

— Fayetteville's Cape Fear Valley Medical Center held its first comprehensive drill on Monday to test its readiness in case of Ebola.

The simulation involved a hospital employee posing as 54-year-old man who returned a week ago from a mission trip to Sierra Leone. Displaying flu-like symptoms, he showed up at Stedman Medical Care in Stedman looking for help.

Doctors and nurses at the clinic practiced how to properly put on personal protective equipment. They isolated the man, took his vitals and then called 911.

Emergency workers arriving at the scene then suited up.

Hospital officials said one of the biggest lessons they learned Monday was how long it takes to put on the protective gear.

"Everything was a little bit slower, but that's OK, because we wanted everyone to be cautious and make sure that they were safe," said Brian Pearce, director of Stedman EMS and emergency management.

Once properly dressed, EMTs went in, got the sick patient and headed to Cape Fear Valley.

Monday's simulation was the first time the health system has conducted a drill that includes clinics, paramedics and the hospital.

Hospital officials said putting the plan, which has been under development for weeks, into action really helps.

"A lot of times, things look good on paper, and then, when you do something, you realize a couple of other things that you may not have taken into consideration," said Michael Zappa, Cape Fear's associate chief medical officer.

So far, 30 staff members at the hospital have been trained on how to properly put on the protective equipment. Over the next week, 100 more staff members will receive the training.

Cape Fear Valley is among many major hospitals in the region training and re-training employees on medical procedures and safety protocols in anticipation for Ebola.

The disease can only be spread through the transfer of bodily fluids in a patient exhibiting symptoms of the disease. The only two cases that have been contracted in the United States have involved nurses in Dallas, who helped treat a man traveling from Liberia.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to release as early as this week newly updated safety protocols for dealing with Ebola patients.

They are expected to be much stricter than current guidelines, and involve new, higher standards for personal protective equipment.


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  • Eric Hammond Oct 21, 2014
    user avatar

    "The cost of this is going to be enormous since lots of hospitals decided they better join the crowd on training"

    Cost? I would expect a major hospital to have it already paid for! The small-town ER I work in has had our gear out for a week. (when I say "gear" I mean full-on bio-chemical warfare protective gear) and we've had that gear for over 10 years! ehem remember 9/11? Oh, and our entire ER staff has learned how to properly put it on and take it off - most have done it a coule of times too! Sadly, this video clearly demonstrates how to take care of Ebola patients, THINK you're safe, but end up spreading it! The white gowns are NOT adequate! EMS got the yellow suits right, but masks & face shields are NOT ENOUGH! It should be a closed respirator system, with a full helmet & double layer hood, triple gloves, and 2 layer tyvex biohazard suit! (that's not overkill, that's what you saw being used by the CDC and Emory when they took care of the doc and the nurse!

  • Eric Hammond Oct 21, 2014
    user avatar

    "did you miss the 13 years? incredible that hospitals didn't already have this training in place" john63

    Simply amazing how short people's memories are when they do not wish to face reality! Absolutely NO ONE who worked with the "imported cases" has been exposed. The ONLY outside exposures have came due to someone who LIED about his exposure to get into the country, and that was compounded by a doctor who dismissed the nurses' concerns that the guy had come from an Ebola hot-spot when he came to the ER the first time! (wouldn't be the first time a doc pooh-pooh'ed a nurses concerns about a patient's care just because the symptoms weren't by the book., and it won't be the last)

  • John Heitzenrater Oct 20, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    did you miss the 13 years? incredible that hospitals didn't already have this training in place, given that we're supposed to have been on guard against much more contagious agents like smallpox and anthrax all this time.

  • jimcricket15 Oct 20, 2014

    What a shame this is neccessary. All because we are foolishly importing ebola. The cost of this is going to be enormous since lots of hospitals decided they better join the crowd on training. Hopefully it will not be necessary to use the skills being gained.