October 31, 2014—No one wants to imagine the Ebola virus making its
way to El Dorado County, and granted, the chances are slim that it will.
Still, Marshall Medical Center is taking the threat very seriously and
has been working diligently on preparedness and special protocols to protect
our community, patients and staff in the event the virus does present
in our local region.
Marshall’s Chief Nursing Officer, Kathy Krejci, RN, says, “We
have an established multidisciplinary team which has been carefully incorporating
all CDC, California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and El Dorado
County Public Health guidance and protocols in order to be well-prepared.”
Ms. Krejci explains that while the risk of Ebola emerging in El Dorado
County is very low, an abundance of caution and preparation is warranted.
“It’s not only the actual clinical danger that Ebola poses,
as it is a severe illness, but also potential fears that we want to address.
We really want to emphasize that we have taken extra measures to ensure
our community is protected, including our staff.”
In addition to standard contact precaution protocols that would be in place
for many different conditions, Marshall has taken extra steps to develop
processes and precautions for how to receive and handle a patient at risk
for possible Ebola. These include appropriate screening questions, signage,
and temporary entrances, if needed, leading directly to the state-of-the-art
isolation and decontamination areas within the Emergency Department.
Moreover, Ms. Krejci adds, “We anticipate that Marshall would not
be a long-term treatment hospital for an Ebola patient; both the CDC and
CDPH have discussed identifying regional Ebola treatment hospitals, such
as the UC Davis Medical Center locations. A patient with confirmed Ebola
would more than likely be transferred to that facility as soon as possible.”
A key component of any hospital’s infection control efforts is the
personal protective equipment (PPE) that is used to protect patients and
staff alike from further contamination. Marshall uses PPE that meets or
exceeds CDC recommendations, and will continuously monitor for updates
and news as we continue to prepare for this possibility.
As Marshall continues its preparations, the medical community within Marshall
would also like to reassure the community that Ebola is only spread through
contact with body fluids. It is not transmissible by air, unlike other
viruses. That being said, it’s important to be prepared and alert.
If you have recently traveled from areas of concern in West Africa (Liberia,
Sierra Leone and Guinea), or been in contact with someone who has traveled
from those areas, and develop Ebola symptoms, call 911 so that an ambulance
can bring you directly to the emergency department’s isolation/decontamination
rooms and reduce potential exposure to others. Symptoms of Ebola include:
abrupt fever, severe headache, joint/muscle pain, sore throat, weakness,
diarrhea and vomiting.
“The mode we should be in is precaution, not panic, and that reflects
the steps we are taking to be prepared for our community, our staff and
our patients,” Ms. Krejci concludes.
For the latest information on Ebola and the United States’ response,
visit www.cdc.gov. The California Department of Public Health has also
established an Ebola information hotline and web site with FAQs should
you wish to review them: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/DEFAULT.aspx.
Marshall Medical Center is an independent, nonprofit community healthcare
provider located in the heart of the Sierra Foothills. Marshall Medical
Center includes Marshall Hospital, a fully accredited acute care facility
with 113 beds in Placerville; several outpatient facilities in Cameron
Park, El Dorado Hills and Georgetown; and many community health and education
programs. Marshall has more than 200 board-certified physicians and 1,500
employees providing quality healthcare services to more than 175,000 residents
of El Dorado County.