Ebola Virus Preparation and Updated CDC Guidelines
The not-for-profit Sutter Health network of doctors, hospitals, home health and other service providers released the following statement in response to newly released guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to the treatment of patients with the Ebola virus and the safety of staff who might care for these patients.
“There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our employees, physicians, patients and communities,” said Sutter Health Chief Medical Officer Gordon Hunt, M.D. “Sutter Health’s Ebola Virus Response Planning Team has taken significant steps to prepare for the screening, isolation and treatment of Ebola patients—and our efforts continue. We’re constantly monitoring updated guidelines from the CDC and others, and we’re incorporating the newest information into our training, protective equipment and response plans.
“Many of the provisions in these most recent CDC guidelines are already included in our existing Sutter Health protocols, which we’ve distributed and trained against. We continue to work to repeatedly train and drill our caregivers, with an unwavering commitment to the safety of our healthcare professionals.”
“Among the protocols and action steps already underway:
- Our revised policy calls for no skin exposure for anyone treating a patient with the Ebola virus or anyone who might come in contact with the patient or the patient’s bodily fluids.
- Our policy continues to call for a monitor, buddy and checklist system for donning and doffing personal protective gear.
- We continue to train across our network, starting with high-risk areas such as emergency departments, admitting, obstetrics and ICUs, and extending into other areas of care. We are reassessing supplies around our network and working to ensure that all of our hospitals have on hand a supply of the newly announced protective gear. All of our hospitals have personal protective equipment outlined in the original CDC guidelines.
- In advance of this week’s CDC announcement, we anticipated the possible need for more extensive protective equipment and we began contacting vendors last week to place orders. We requested accelerated delivery, and in the meantime, our integrated network of care can quickly transfer equipment from one facility to another based on need.
“Our team of infection preventionists, infectious disease specialists, and critical care, emergency department and emergency preparedness experts closely monitors this rapidly evolving situation. We are committed to continually updating our policies, procedures, action plans, human resource protocols, training and drilling to reflect updated guidelines and as new learnings arise from other parts of the nation or world. Our Sutter Health network already took these and other steps to prepare for the Ebola Virus:
- An Ebola Virus Disease Action Plan: This plan establishes a unified framework for our organization’s preparation and response to the Ebola virus.
- An Ebola Virus Disease Emergency Operations Plan Policy and Procedure: This plan details the necessary steps to triage, admit and care for a patient known or suspected to have the Ebola virus.
- Ebola Virus Disease Screening Protocols: As a first step toward identifying the Ebola virus, our protocols call for proactively screening for fever and asking patients about their travel history and symptoms. These screening protocols are in place at entry points to our network, including emergency departments, hospital units, urgent care centers, primary care doctors’ offices and surgery centers, as well as through our home health care professionals and call center representatives.
- An Ebola Virus Disease Emergency Department Guide: It outlines specific roles and responsibilities for emergency department staff to help prevent the spread of the disease to health care workers, patients and visitors.
- Approved Ebola Virus Disease Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Register and Instructions: Clinicians must wear specific PPE at all times when caring for a patient suspected of having the Ebola virus. To help ensure the safety of our staff, we are providing training and instructions on how to properly don, doff and dispose of PPEs, using a buddy, monitor and checklist system. We will update these practices based on the today’s newest CDC guidelines, and we will continually update our procedures and practices as new learnings arise. Our hands-on training specific to the use of PPE starts with employees most likely to care for an Ebola patient and extends to other personnel, as appropriate.
- Ebola Virus Disease Response Training: Preventing the spread of any infectious disease is ongoing in our care centers. Doctors, nurses, clinicians and staff participate in emergency drills. Across our network, we’re actively training all admitting and clinical personnel to identify and isolate a potential patient with Ebola virus. We’ve also begun more in-depth training for those most likely to provide care and treatment to a patient with Ebola virus. Depending on individual roles and responsibilities, employees receive training in the form of hands-on practice, tabletop and in-depth drills, demonstrations, online tutorials, town hall meetings, informational videos and materials, and frequent updates.