Hancock County prepares for Ebola in Indiana

(AP Photo/Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hancock County public safety and healthcare workers are preparing just in case an Ebola patient ends up in Central Indiana. The county’s 911 dispatchers are now asking all people calling with medical concerns if they’ve traveled internationally in the past two months.

“It’s just to be safe and to protect our members of public safety and this county,” said John Jokantas, Hancock County 911 Center director.

If the person has traveled out of the country, first-responders will know to prepare themselves before they get to the call. The county has not encountered anyone that has traveled internationally yet, but Jokantas said it’s better to be prepared just in case.

“If we’re proactive toward this, and by some strange chance we do have someone that has traveled outside the country or to Africa, then we can alert our members of public safety who are responding,” said Jokantas.

Hancock Regional Hospital is also screening patients. Every patient coming through the doors is asked about their international travel over the past six weeks. Anyone who reports symptoms and has traveled out of the country will immediately be isolated.

While the hospital has those initial plans in place, officials are still working with the state health department and the CDC to determine what comes next. The hospital’s head of infection control says there’s been talk of setting up one designated hospital in each state to handle Ebola patients, but no definite decision has been made so hospitals should be ready for anything.

“Indiana is definitely a possibility. So I feel like that’s why we definitely need to be prepared, ” said Darla Carter, Hancock Regional infection control manager.

The State Health Department says it’s encouraging all hospitals to screen for international travel. The department is working on opening up a hotline for health care providers who might have questions about Ebola.


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