Fayetteville hospital holds extensive Ebola drill
Posted October 20, 2014 5:36 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.