Area Hospitals Ready for Very Unlikely Ebola Outbreak

By Steph Machado

Published 08/05 2014 09:55PM

Updated 08/06 2014 10:28AM

BURLINGTON - Good news: the Ebola outbreak is unlikely to reach our region.

However, officials at Fletcher Allen Health Care said they would be ready anyway.

Sally Hess is the Manager of Infection Prevention. She says the CDC has issued recommendations about what hospitals should do, and FAHC already had precautions in place. Hess says the hospital trains all its staff in infection prevention.

For example, if anyone came to the Emergency Room with Ebola symptoms, doctors and nurses know to ask if the person has been to West Africa. The person can be placed in a private room with signage outside, indicating what level of precautions need to be taken, such as protective gear. 

Hess says Ebola is spread through mucus membranes. The disease is not airborne, like the flu.

The hospital also has a stockpile of protective gear, in case of any sort of infectious outbreak.

"If we were to need an increased quantity of gloves, an increased quantity of gowns, an increased quantity of masks, we have them in stock. When there's a surge of need across the country, all of a sudden you can't get stuff from your vendors," Hess said.

The hospital also has a "negative pressure" room that helps prevent the spread of illness, though the CDC is not yet requiring such a room be used for Ebola.

Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center is also following the same precautions, their staff is on alert, and asking patients if they've been to West Africa.

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