INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – State and local health officials are increasing measures to protect the health of Hoosiers in the event of an Ebola case in Indiana.
The State Health Department and healthcare partners have support from Governor Pence to take the needed measures in order to be prepared to treat patients, isolate contacts and to contain the spread of the disease.
“People are understandably afraid, but Hoosiers should take comfort knowing Indiana has excellent health systems in place, which are routinely relied upon to successfully treat serious infectious diseases,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D.
The Indiana State Department of Health has increased its response efforts to include:
- Continuing regular communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Indiana healthcare providers.
- Establishing a healthcare provider hotline to answer questions about screening and diagnosis of Ebola.
- Developing a training video for healthcare workers about how to put on and take off personal protective equipment.
- Creating a questionnaire for healthcare workers to use when screening a patient for Ebola. This includes directions for worker protection and patient management based on answers provided.
- Planning standing weekly calls with hospitals and local health departments.
- Working with the Department of Education to provide information to school nurses.
- Working with the local health departments and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management regarding hazardous waste management specific to Ebola.
In the U.S., eight people have been treated for Ebola. This includes the two nurses who treated patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Texas. In Indiana, no cases have been tested for or reported.
The Ebola virus can only be spread once a person shows symptoms. There is no risk for transmission if someone is not showing symptoms.
Indiana healthcare providers are required to report any cases of illnesses that might pose a risk to public health. This includes the Ebola Virus Disease, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), measles, rubella, mumps, tuberculosis, pandemic influenza and other diseases.
For more information about Ebola, visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s website or the CDC website. You can also check the State Health Department’s Twitter at @StateHealthIN, or Facebook page.
Indianapolis area hospitals are also planning, so they’re prepared in case they need to respond.
At Eskenazi Hospital, Dr. Charles Miramonti, the Medical Director for the Emergency Department, says it’s been a city-wide, coordinated effort.
“The city has really come together in an amazing fashion to share best practices, and put back-up plans in place,” he said.
Miramonti said their staff has been training to respond. He says during triage, health officials will be looking for a series of symptoms and a patient’s travel history.
Dr. Miramonti says they’ve been building out a process or a flow for receiving patients through the front door, or the ambulance bay, and getting them into an isolated room if they’re deemed high risk for Ebola exposure.
He says they’ve also been training on the personal protective equipment, putting it on, and more importantly, taking it off.
“I think the public should feel very safe at this time, absolutely very safe at this time, that one, they are protected, and two, we are doing everything we possibly can to minimize any risk,” Miramonti said.
A spokesperson for St. Francis health said the hospital started planning for how they would respond in early August. He said beginning October 1, when patients come to the emergency room, they’re asked a series of questions about symptoms, and if they’ve traveled to anywhere in West Africa recently.
24-Hour News 8 also received statements from St. Vincent and IU Health on their Ebola preparation.
St.Vincent released this statement:
St.Vincent is working closely with federal, state and local partners – including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) – to prepare our associates to detect, protect and respond to patients who present with Ebola virus disease (EVD) symptoms. Our number one priority is the safety of our patients and healthcare workers.
We have implemented a CDC-recommended screening tool to identify patients who may be at risk of Ebola, specifically those who have traveled from West Africa in the last 30 days or been in close contact with a known or suspected EVD-infected individual, and are exhibiting symptoms inclusive of a fever, severe headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain or unexplained hemorrhaging. If a patient is identified, the protocol is to immediately mask and isolate the individual, and notify the infectious disease team who will coordinate testing with the ISDH and CDC to confirm an Ebola diagnosis.
IU Health released this statement Thursday:
Many of you have asked about the steps we are taking to prepare for the potential of a patient in Indiana diagnosed with Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
First, Indiana University Health has not diagnosed, received or treated a patient with EVD. However, as new cases of Ebola continue to emerge in the United States, we are taking important steps to prepare to protect our patients, visitors, team members and the community at large.
Thus far, many of our steps have focused on the operational requirements of early identification and containment of infectious disease, of treating a patient with EVD and ensuring team members have the training, supplies and support needed to provide high-quality patient care with safety and confidence.
Specifically, IU Health has been:
- Identifying and preparing appropriate isolation areas to safely treat patients
- Implementing extended training for the care team of a patient diagnosed with EVD
- Procuring necessary supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) so that team members are protected as they provide care
- Revising emergency department check-in procedures and implementing primary care screenings for appointment bookings
- Reviewing patient transfer scenarios-be it through EMS, another IU Health partner or an independent hospital referral
- Coordinating with the Indiana State Department of Health, the CDC, the Marion County Health Department, MESH Coalition, Indianapolis EMS and peer hospitals locally and nationally
IU Health has extensive experience treating patients with communicable diseases and is prepared should a patient with Ebola need our care.
We are encouraged by the vigilance and preparation this matter is receiving in our state and the steps an extended team of experts is taking to ensure the best possible care for Hoosiers.
We are committed to sharing timely, transparent and accurate information and will notify you should this situation change.