By Rebekah Martin
EAMC is ready for the Ebola virus.
The chances that the top rated hospital will ever need to implement the disaster plan the staff drilled for Nov. 11 are slim. However, director of Support Services and drill organizer Randy Causey said the hospital is required to have disaster plans in place for the if-and-when scenarios.
The scene began with assistant vice president of Patient Care Services, Jane Fullum, playing the patient. Fullum arrived at the emergency room complaining of nausea, a headache and a fever of 101.3. Fullum told the security screener stationed just beyond the ER entrance that she had just returned from Sierra Leone, where she had been in contact with Ebola patients. Meeting the criteria for a suspected Ebola case, the screening officer then implemented the roughly 90-minute drill.
Fullum was moved to two isolation tents set up in the ambulance bay, where ER nurses Kelly Alexander and Anna Hutchinson, donned in multiple layers of personal protective gear, assessed her, treating her symptoms and taking blood samples to be sent to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga.
Alexander and Hutchinson worked as a team to assess Fullum, with one in the isolation tent with the patient and one retrieving supplies as they were needed. Hutchinson said this buddy system was designed to further limit exposure to the suspected infected person.
While the assessment was taking place, other staff members on the Ebola response team were making preparations for Fullum to be transported to the fourth floor, where an area has been designated as a containment area in the event of a real Ebola threat. The area has been set up with a camera which streams to a monitor located in the hallway, and an intercom system.
Cecil Hart, an R.N. and member of the response team, was stationed in the containment area, ready to aid Alexander and Hutchinson after the transportation of Fullum. The drill came to an end after Fullum was successfully moved to the isolation unit and all those who were in contact with her had followed the protocol for removing the personal protective gear, wiping down each layer with bleach cloths.
Approximately 30 EAMC employees participated in the drill – some playing the roles they would fill in the event of a suspected case of Ebola and others observing for quality measures.
The Ebola Response team is made of volunteers who chose to be trained on the protocol for handling a future crisis.
Hart said he was hesitant about volunteering at first but then changed his mind. “I’d rather be properly trained on how to handle Ebola than to have no experience with it if it does come here,” Hart said. “As nurses, we want to be prepared to treat our patients no matter what comes our way.”
This was the first drill EAMC has held on its Ebola protocol. Causey said the hospital plans to continue to practice the disaster plan.