MSHA joins forces with Wellmont on Ebola

Published 1:23 pm Friday, October 17, 2014

With three cases of Ebola virus now confirmed in Texas — one of them fatal — two local health systems have joined forces to better prepare their staff and facilities in the event a case of the virus should appear in our region.
On Thursday, Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System issued a joint statement on Ebola preparedness. The statement was issued by Alan Levin, president and CEO of MSHA, and Bart Hove, interim president and CEO of Wellmont.
“We are aware of the public concern related to the potential spread of the Ebola Virus,” Levin and Hove said in the released statement. “We share those concerns, and while we cannot control national events, Wellmont and Mountain States are working closely together to ensure we protect our employees and caregivers while also ensuring we do everything possible to identify potential cases when they may present, and isolate them while we commence appropriate treatment.”
There have been no suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola in East Tennessee or Southwest Virginia — the area served by the two health systems.
“We certainly pray that remains the case, but we are working closely together to ensure all points of entry into the local health care system have protocols for identification of symptoms and risk factors for the potential diagnosis of Ebola,” the statement from Levin and Hove said. “Our protocols are designed to ensure swift, immediate isolation of the patients and contact with state health officials for proper containment of the cases, should they present.”
Both systems report they are focusing on identification of high-risk symptoms and isolation of patients who may seek treatment at one of the medical facilities in the two networks.
Staff at all of the facilities in the two healthcare networks are also receiving training on how to identify potential cases and the proper protocols to follow should a patient present symptoms of the disease.
“We are engaging in training of our staffs to ensure that we: minimize exposure to only those people critically required to treat the patients; maintain appropriate supervision by infection prevention experts; isolate potential cases from other patients; and maintain a sanitized environment to avoid any potential for spread,” the statement said.
“Our objective is to get it right if a case should present itself and to provide comfort to our employees and caregivers that their safety is of critical importance,” it continued.
Levin and Hove said cooperation between MSHA and Wellmont is “occurring at the highest levels” with communications between the health systems’ CEOs as well as infection prevention experts.
“There is no greater priority to us than the safety and security of our region, and our goal is to ensure a swift and medically appropriate response should this horrible virus make its way into our region,” Levin and Hove said in the statement.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, symptoms of Ebola include: fever of greater than 101.5 degrees, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising).
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.
The CDC said there is currently no Food and Drug Administration-approved medication or vaccine available for Ebola.
Ebola is spread through direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, or vomit) of a person who is sick with Ebola, objects like needles and syringes that have been contaminated with the virus, or infected animals. According to the CDC, Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food.

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