The news of recent deaths from Ebola in the United States has heightened awareness and concern regarding spread of the disease. Unity Point Health is taking this public health issue seriously and is prepared to address potential cases.
It’s important to remember our hospitals and clinics care for individuals with contagious illnesses every day. While Ebola is a new disease for us, the processes required to ensure patients are treated appropriately while protecting staff and the public are not unfamiliar to us. Our hospitals and staff are well-trained and ready for Ebola or any other contagious disease. We have facilities in place for individuals who contract contagious diseases and the proper protective equipment for staff, volunteers and the public.
Policies have been developed in our emergency departments to screen all patients for travel history and symptoms. Patients with suspected Ebola will be evaluated using precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta.
We have assembled enhanced isolation carts in our emergency departments with gowns, footwear, face shields, surgical masks and equipment to effectively manage a potential case. Protocols have been developed by our infection control specialists, reviewed by our medical staff and have been provided to appropriate staff.
Ebola is not a virus spread through the air, and an individual is contagious only if the infected person is having active symptoms. Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of a sick person or exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated. In other words, the likelihood of contracting Ebola through casual contact is remote.
The Iowa Departments of Public Health and those in Illinois and Wisconsin recognize that even a single case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States can raise concerns locally. Our state and local health departments have been and will continue to work closely with the CDC and local public health agencies to ensure the state is ready to respond should the need arise. The Iowa DPH has been working with CDC and local public health agencies in the following ways:
Enhancing surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in states to detect casesDeveloping guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigationsProviding recommendations for healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spreadDisseminating up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, and public health partners
If you have specific questions or seek additional information, please contact Dr. Tim Horrigan or Michelle Heine for UnityPoint Health – Waterloo. We will share additional statements and advisories with you when there are updates to report. Thanks.
VP Institutional Advancement
UnityPoint Health – Allen Hospital