Photo: Heidi Hoschka, an emergency room nurse at Hudson Hospital & Clinic, practices donning a suit to protect against the Ebola virus in a training session at the hospital last week. She is assisted by, from left, Jen Sanftner, Erica Ranney and Cheryl Champine of Westfields Hospital, New Richmond. (Submitted photo)
As seen in the Hudson Star-Observer, October 29, 2014 - see full article here:
The odds of Hudson Hospital & Clinic having to deal with a case of Ebola are slim, but if it happens the staff is prepared, according to Robbi Hagelberg, the hospital’s chief nursing officer.
“It’s not new to us. We’ve actually been preparing for a long time. The HealthPartners organization has been very aware of the threat of Ebola and has been very proactive for quite some time,” Hagelberg said in a telephone interview last week. Hudson Hospital is part of the larger HealthPartners organization based in Minnesota.
Last Thursday at Hudson Hospital, a group of registered nurses from Hudson and Westfields Hospital in New Richmond were practicing putting on and taking off the protective clothing worn when caring for Ebola patients.
After two Dallas, Texas, health care workers became infected with Ebola while caring for a patient, the Centers for Disease Control issued new guidelines on putting on and taking off the gear, Hagelberg said. “That’s where contamination often occurs,” she said.
The emergency room nurses gathered at Hudson Hospital were practicing to get it right. Hagelberg added that the training also focuses on quickly recognizing someone infected with Ebola if they do appear at the hospital. Signs posted at each of the hospital entrances ask anyone who has recently traveled to the West Africa countries of Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone to inform a hospital worker immediately.
The signs list possible symptoms of someone infected with Ebola: fever, headaches, chills, body aches, diarrhea, abdominal pain and unexplained bleeding. Anyone who has traveled to West Africa who is showing symptoms of Ebola will be placed in a designated isolation room in the hospital, away from the general staff and other patients, while the hospital prepares to transport them to a more advanced care hospital in the Twin Cities. The goal is to identify and isolate the patient immediately. “It is blood and body fluid contact with either mucus membranes or compromised skin,” Hagelberg said of the way the virus is transmitted from person to person, while allowing that experts are reevaluating whether the germs can be spread short distances through the air.
“There is a lot of confidence around the fact the contamination of the health care workers in Texas came about from the fluid exposure in removing the protective equipment,” she said. As to someone in Hudson contacting Ebola, Hagelberg said: “The risk is very low. It’s not cause for panic.” The protective clothing is required for health care workers treating Ebola patients, she said, because they are at risk for coming in contact with the person’s body fluids or blood. “I think they are just erring on the side of being overly cautious and making sure that our health care workers are well-protected, and that’s certainly our interest as well,” she said. She said that if someone with Ebola does turn up at the Hudson ER, the staff will isolate the patient and work with St. Croix Emergency Medical Services to quickly transport him or her to a Twin Cities hospital set up to handle Ebola cases. Hagelberg said Hudson Hospital has an adequate supply of the protective gear.
“If there is a case that presents here in Hudson, we are well prepared for it and have a good plan in place to compassionately care for those patients, but also protect our health care workers, as well as the community,” she said.
In a written response to the Star-Observer’s request for information on its Ebola preparations, the hospital said it is fortunate to be part of an organization that has experts in travel medicine and infectious and tropical diseases. The hospital said the staff trains regularly on using protective equipment and routinely participates in exercises with county emergency preparedness agencies.
The hospital asks that anyone who has recently traveled to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone and is showing symptoms of Eloba to call its care line at (612) 339-3663 or (800) 551-0859.
They should make the call before going to their doctor’s office or to a hospital emergency room in order to help the staff prepare for their care and to protect others, the statement said. It recommends that patients call 911 if they are experiencing an emergency.