Danedri Thompson
[email protected]
Olathe Health System, the operator of Olathe Medical Hospital, is prepared should someone infected with Ebola arrive at its doors, Stephanie Manning, spokesperson, said.
In a way, preparations began long before the epidemic in West Africa.
The hospital built isolation rooms above the emergency room during a 2012 expansion.
“It’s a critical care unit on top of our ER,” Manning said. “There are two isolation rooms built in.”
Manning said health system executives and infection control department staff have been in regular communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the county health department since late July.
“We are following the CDC’s recommended guidelines and have implemented a number of safety measures to screen patients and identify possible Ebola cases, like asking for patient travel history or exposure to anyone who has traveled to an affected West African county within the past 21 days,” an Olathe Health System press release reads.
Prior to press time, a Kansas City man, who had recently worked on a medical boat in West Africa, was in isolation at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Results of an Ebola blood test were anticipated after press time. The hospital’s chief medical officer, Dr. Lee Norman, told reporters at an Oct. 13 press conference that the man did not pose a health risk to other patients or medical staff.
The World Health Organization estimates more than 8,000 people in West Africa have been infected with the disease, and that more than 4,000 people have succumbed to it. Those numbers don’t include a Liberian man who died from the virus in Dallas last week. Thomas Eric Duncan likely caught the disease in Liberia before arriving in the U.S. He was at first sent away from a Texas hospital after presenting himself to an emergency room with a temperature of 103 degrees. A second patient, a nurse who treated Duncan, also tested positive for the virus following Duncan’s death.
“Like everyone else, we’ve added the patient travel history checklist to any patient who presents to (Olathe Medical Center), whether they have symptoms or not,” Manning said.
According to the Johnson County Health Department, Ebola is only transmitted by direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids from a person who is sick with Ebola. It has a 21-day incubation. The virus is not transmitted through air, water or food.