With the recent news of a Dallas nurse being infected with the Ebola virus, hospitals across the U.S. are scrambling to prepare for a potential outbreak of the deadly disease. In this interview with Surgical Products, Martie Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ and chief nursing officer of Medline Industries, Inc., provides insight into how hospitals and medical supply manufacturers are preparing for a possible Ebola outbreak. Look for additional interviews with industry experts on the Ebola crisis in next week’s coverage.
SP: What are the most crucial aspects of making sure medical facilities are prepared for Ebola patients?
Moore: First is educating on how to assess for Ebola, how it is transmitted and what to do if you suspect that you might have a patient with Ebola. Taking a clear history of exposure, travel and symptoms will be critical. Second is utilizing the PPE (personal protective equipment) appropriately and continuously until it has been determined what the infectious disease might be and how best to protect against transmission. Third, have caregivers practice both how to put on the PPE and how to remove it. There are very specific steps that are recommended by the CDC and it is important that caregivers are familiar with the steps before they are caring for a possible patient with an infectious disease.
SP: What is the greatest challenge in preparing medical facilities for treating Ebola patients?
Moore: Hospitals have Emergency Preparedness Plans and on a regular basis train against their plans to make sure that their employees are trained in the proper protocols and procedures. The greatest challenge is making sure that every employee has gone through the training, and has had an opportunity to practice and apply the training to their own performance.
SP: What should people do to safeguard themselves from infection?
Moore: To safeguard themselves from infection, the CDC recommends people should wash their hands, cover their mouth, stay home when they are ill and get their flu vaccination. Most viruses are transmitted by droplets in the air. Ebola is not. Ebola is transmitted through contact with blood and body fluids. You have to have close contact with an infected person and their body fluids to contract this type of virus.
SP: What types of infection control equipment are recommended by the CDC?
Moore: Products the CDC is recommending include (but not limited to) can be best categorized by the following – BODY: fluid resistant isolation gowns, coveralls, headwear and footwear; FACIAL PROTECTION: fluid resistant face masks, fluid resistant masks with shields and full face shields; HAND: surgical scrub and exam gloves.