Santa Clara County health care providers prepare for Ebola

Santa Clara County health care professionals are developing new infection control procedures and upgrading protective equipment to prepare for the unlikely event of Ebola arising in the area.

With news this week of a second transmitted case of Ebola in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control is urging hospitals across the country to review and amend infectious disease protocol.

“We feel like we have to go the extra mile. We want to be ready,” said Dr. Charles Weiss, who is on the infectious diseases committee at Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

If a case of Ebola were to arrive in Santa Clara County, Palo Alto Medical Foundation would act as a transfer clinic. For them, being prepared starts with knowing what questions to ask to identify potential cases of Ebola.

(Image courtesy National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) via CDC.)
(Image courtesy National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) via CDC.)

“We have promoted and distributed what we call the three golden questions,” Weiss said. “One, do you have fever or chills? Two, have you traveled outside the country in the last 21 days? And three, if you have traveled outside of the country, have you gone to West Africa, specifically the three affected countries?”

In the event of a suspected case, Palo Alto Medical Foundation would begin infection control. That includes isolating the patient and getting them to the nearest hospital capable of treating a patient with Ebola. The protective gear in which this handling would occur, has all been upgraded since health care providers in Liberia, Spain, and now Dallas contracted the virus.

“We have upgraded gloves, headwear, and we are working to upgrade our leg protection as well,” Weiss said.

As health clinics are taking necessary precautions, Dr. Sara Cody, the deputy health officer at the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, insists that the residents of Santa Clara County are safe.

“This is not a threat to residents,” Cody said. “If someone with Ebola was here, we would identify them early and protect them from getting others infected.”

From carving out a clear line from transfer to treatment hospitals to ordering the newest protective equipment, Santa Clara County health care centers are doing what they can to prepare for Ebola.

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