Ebola procedures set

Published 9:40 pm Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Following a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to all health care facilities, Bon Secours and Sentara have confirmed that medical staff at their respective Suffolk facilities are asking patients presenting with high fever about recent travel.

As recommended by the CDC, patients arriving at Health Center at Harbour View with a fever exceeding 101.5 degrees are being questioned about travel to West Africa, Bon Secours spokeswoman Lynne Zultanky said.

“We are doing that in all of our facilities,” she said.

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As far as she knows, Zultanky said, no patient has been quarantined as a result of any information received. But at the Harbour View facility, “there was a patient that we had some concerns with, and then we discovered that Africa’s a big continent and the person was on the eastern side of Africa,” she said.

“That was a significantly different response and deemed a very low risk,” Zultanky said. “To my knowledge, no one has been quarantined, or anything of that nature.”

Elsewhere in Hampton Roads, earlier in the month, a man who arrived at a Newport News medical center with Ebola-like symptoms was tested. The test returned a negative result.

People are worried about Ebola, Zultanky said.

“There’s no other way to describe it,” she said.  “There has been a lot of publicity about this, and there are a lot of concerns.”

Sentara spokesman Dale Gauding confirmed questions about travel are also being asked at Suffolk’s Obici Hospital.

“There is signage going up, if not already, asking patients to inform registration staff if they fit any criteria around African travel or exposure to someone who might have been exposed to Ebola, etc.,” Gauding wrote in an email.

The question is “hardwired” into the Bon Secours computer system, Zultanky said.

“Naturally, we are doing more and more education with our staff and making sure the question gets answered, and making sure they know where protective equipment is and how to use it.”

Systems are also in place to ensure the travel question gets asked if the computer system isn’t functioning, Zultanky said.

“Sometimes we take it down, for maintenance and upgrades,” she said. “Those questions still get answered, regardless of whether the computer system is up or not.”

Health systems share information and collaborate regarding infectious diseases such as Ebola, according to Zultanky.

“We collaborate on any efforts that we consider to be community emergency management and make sure (we share) any lessons to be learned on best practices,” she said.