State’s call center for Ebola up and running

(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) —  The Indiana State Department of Health’s call center for questions regarding the Ebola virus disease is up and running.

It’s just one of the many ways the state is preparing. Officials are increasing measures so they can protect citizens in case of an Ebola case here.

24-Hour News 8 was among the first to get a look inside the call center.

Tuesday, those monitoring the call center took nearly forty calls from both providers and the public. They say calls came in from as far as Europe.

“They’re interested in knowing, How can I keep myself safe? What are my risks of getting Ebola virus disease?” explained Dr. Joan Duwve, Chief Medical Consultant at the Indiana State Department of Health.

Duwve says it’s important people have the facts.

“I think the most important thing is to understand unless you’ve visited Guinea, Sierra Leone, or Liberia, or had direct contact with a person with known Ebola Virus Disease in this country, you are not at risk for Ebola virus disease,” said Duwve.

The Ebola virus is not spread through air, by water or food, or by casual contact. People with Ebola can only spread the virus when they have symptoms. It is spread only by direct contact with blood or body fluids.

“In Indiana, you’re more likely to get a severe case of the flu, end up in the hospital, and even die from influenza, than you are from Ebola virus disease,” explained Duwve.

Duwve recommends: get your flu shot.

Nonetheless, healthcare workers, first responders and city leaders across the state are preparing, together.

In Wayne Township, new respirators just came in Tuesday. They’ll be used in case first responders come across a patient who could potentially have the Ebola virus.

“It keeps positive air flow coming through, to keep contaminates out,” said Captain Michael Pruitt with Wayne Township Fire Department.

Pruitt says first responders will also have a screening checklist, adding additional questions to ask the patient, like their travel history and their symptoms.  Those questions will lead first responders to know whether the patient could be at risk for Ebola, or just the flu.

“As first responders, we have a duty to protect the general public, and to prepare ourselves. Whether it’s fire, chemical incidents, or anything that comes down the line, we have to be prepared to handle it,” said Pruitt. “The public can trust us to be prepared.”

Pruitt says Wayne Township has invited agencies from across the region to get together Wednesday to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to preparedness.

The CDC released new guidelines for medical workers last night.

If you have questions, ISDH also set up a page on their website with lots of answers and information. You can also follow them on Twitter @StateHealthIN.

The state health department’s call center is open from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.

You can call (877) 826-0011, or (877) 561-0044 for the hearing impaired.

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