Local News

Isolation rooms in Fayetteville hospital could be used to treat Ebola patient

Posted October 15, 2014 7:05 p.m. EDT
Updated October 15, 2014 7:11 p.m. EDT

— The concerns over Ebola in the U.S. coincide with the beginning of the yearly flu season, and the two illnesses share some of the same symptoms. So, the staff of Cape Fear Valley Medical Center is going through intensive training about Ebola in case someone with the virus shows up in Fayetteville.

Dr. Clifton Hawkes, Cape Fear Valley's director of infectious diseases, said the staff in the hospital's emergency room has been told exactly what questions need to be asked during patient screenings. If someone suspected of having Ebola walks through the door, the hospital has more than a dozen isolation rooms available to handle the patient, he said.

The isolation rooms have special barriers that staff need to pass through before entering and are equipped with negative pressure ventilation systems that vent air from the rooms outside and don't recirculate it through the hospital. All of a patient's bodily fluids are kept in the room and are disposed of separately.

"If you put them in a room with a private bathroom and the health care workers wear the protective gear that's been recommended, then we can handle a case," Hawkes said. "I think it takes on a different level of concern if there's an actual diagnosed case of Ebola."

Hawkes will meet with military leaders at Fort Bragg on Friday to make sure they're on the same page when it comes to Ebola screenings and patient care and treatment.

Cape Fear Valley also plans to hold a drill on Monday to see if the staff is ready to meet the challenge of handling an Ebola patient.

The Fayetteville VA Medical Center held a similar drill last week, and WakeMed in Raleigh plans to hold an Ebola training session on Thursday.