Health Team

Henderson hospital using chocolate to train for potential Ebola threat

Posted October 14, 2014

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— Lately, it's not unusual to see a nurse at Maria Parham Medical Center suit up in protective gear, gown, mask and gloves as the hospital prepares just in case a patient presents signs of the Ebola virus.

What's different is that they use chocolate syrup in their training.

The Henderson hospital's chief nursing officer, Cindy Faulkner, says it's a visual way to ensure medical workers are properly removing their protective gear so as not to contaminate anything or anyone.

Since a Texas nurse contracted the disease from a patient, the hospital says, staff members have been especially concerned about making sure they know how to protect themselves.

"Our infection prevention specialist is going unit by unit and helping them practice," Faulkner said.

It's an example of how smaller hospitals in rural communities are preparing for the threat.

Maria Parham is preparing in other ways as well, such as adding Ebola-related questions to its intake process.

"Immediately, if any of the answers to those questions is yes, our nursing supervisor would be contacted as well as the local health department," Faulkner said.

That's when Granville-Vance District Health Department Director Lisa Harrison and her team would step in.

"Public health's role is a lot around contact tracing for communicable disease," Harrison said.

As for what would happen next for an Ebola patient once isolated at Maria Parham, medical officials says it's likely a hospital of its size would eventually transport the person to another facility.

"It is starting to become the recommendation that a patient would be taken to either a tertiary center or one of the five hospitals in the country that are going to handle Ebola patients," she said.

Both Duke University Hospital and UNC Hospitals are considered tertiary hospitals and have resources beyond a smaller hospital, such as Maria Parham.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Christy Dunnegan Oct 15, 2014
    user avatar

    These suits won't protect the workers from anything!! Typical Maria Parham....

  • Fed Up With Henderson Oct 15, 2014

    If they knew what they were doing at Maria Parham they wouldn't have to smear there gloves with chocolate. Anyone whose been to Maria Parham knows what I'm talking about!

  • Forthe Newssite Oct 15, 2014
    user avatar

    IMO those yellow gowns are NOT enough protection! I've worn them and if that is all I had to wear I'd be going home. They need to get protection that is 100% impervious to any fluid, and those aren't

  • heard-it-all-before Oct 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    well aren't you just the life of the party. just because the technique has been around for years (to you) doesn't mean it's no longer a novel idea.

  • Cheree Teasley Oct 15, 2014
    user avatar

    We did something very similar when I trained as a military medic. It wasn't chocolate, but we used a liquid sticky substance that was red and visible throughout training. It taught us to be conscious of everything we touched and was part of our final testing. There were three specific points at which there needed to be no existing sticky stuff anywhere to have a properly infection controlled area. Anything less was cross contamination.

  • greymomma Oct 15, 2014

    Not novel.... High school science teachers and nursing voc ed teachers have been using a product called Glo-Germ for years to teach proper hand washing and glove removal technique. It is only visible under a black light, and therefore a much better representation of the invisible transmission of microbes.

  • jmcdow2792 Oct 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Yep, could at least use some duct tape.

  • Jack Miller Oct 15, 2014
    user avatar

    That protection is awful. It's the same the second Texas nurse was wearing Look how the wrists are exposed. Buy some has may suits

  • GulfWarVet Oct 15, 2014

    The question that MUST be asked is: WHAT are hospitals doing to protect not only the staff, but other patients from cross contamination from other infected individuals?

    But, relative to the story: Why isn't it protocol to issue each person who enters an ER a mask and gloves? It doesn't matter whether they've got a 2x4 sticking out of their stomach or they're bringing their little monkeys who fell off the bed (not racial its a nursery rhyme)... once in the hospital and sitting in the waiting room, patients & their awaiting parties are taking it all in... FLU, EBOLA, EVD68, etc.

  • Thomas Fenske Oct 15, 2014
    user avatar

    That seems to be a novel approach ... hopefully they can fight the impulse to lick off the "contamination" ... that could be a bad habit to introduce to the equation.

    I'm sure it was just an oversight in the article but this statement worried me: "Immediately, if any of the answers to those questions is yes, our nursing supervisor would be contacted as well as the local health department,"
    I'm assuming they mean AFTER they've put the person into total isolation? If it is "wait right here ..." and they go off and call the supervisor and health department with the patient sitting there in intake we in a whole heap-o-trouble.