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How we're preparing for Ebola
 
Ebola is still rare in the United States. The key to preventing the spread of the virus is to identify and isolate potential cases as quickly as possible. 

  
To help with this effort, Southeastern Health (SeHealth) and Southeastern Regional Medical Center (SRMC) are following the Ebola screening guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

  
According to SeHealth Infection Control Coordinator Sherry Edwards, RN, SeHealth established an Ebola Taskforce earlier this month which has evolved into a steering committee which meets weekly.

  
The organization has conducted four drills to date with more planned which focus on processes to follow if a patient presents to SRMC or an affiliated clinic who meets both of the criteria below, and who is immediately placed in a private room for isolation and testing:

  
1. Symptoms and signs of Ebola. These include fever; headache; joint and muscle aches; weakness; fatigue; diarrhea; vomiting; stomach pain; lack of appetite; and, in some cases, bleeding.
2. Travel to West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone or other countries where the World Health Organization has reported Ebola transmission) in the 21 days (3 weeks) before symptoms started.
If a patient meets the above criteria, he or she will be moved to a private room with a bathroom. Standard, contact and droplet infection precautions will be followed when assessing, treating and transporting the patient.
In addition, the following persons or organizations will be immediately notified:
• Hospital leadership.
 
• Local and state public health authorities.
 
• CDC's Emergency Operations Center.
 
Drills and training continue for SeHealth staff, with reinforcement training planned next week on donning and doffing, or putting on and taking off, of protective gear.
“The protective gear used by our staff meets current CDC standards,” said Edwards. “Should those standards change, we will obtain the recommended personal protective equipment and ensure all staff are well trained in proper usage.”

  
For the latest information about Ebola, including how the virus is transmitted, as well as signs and symptoms of the disease, visit CDC's Ebola website, www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/ or the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ website, www.ncdhhs.gov/ebola/.

  
Information is also available by calling a new Ebola public information line established by the Carolinas Poison Center. The number is 1-800-222-1222. Callers should press 6 for questions about Ebola. __________________________________
Amanda L. Crabtree, MPA-HA
Public Relations Coordinator
Southeastern Health
PO Box 1408
Lumberton, NC 28359
Tel: 910-671-5499
Fax: 910-671-5192
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