The World Health Organization has called the recent Ebola outbreak “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times.”
On Monday, results from a survey by National Nurses United of more than 2,100 registered nurses in 46 states reported that 85 percent of them said their hospitals have given them no specific training on dealing with the virus.
Such is not the case on Martha’s Vineyard. “We started looking into this in August, in conjunction with Partners HealthCare,” Martha’s Vineyard Hospital chief nurse executive Carol Bardwell told The Times. “We evaluated what we had for isolation facilities and protective gear. We’ve added more gear and we’ve had regular drills and information sessions for the staff, and we’ll continue to update our protocol per the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control.”
Under the current hospital plan, if a person checks in showing any symptoms of Ebola, they will be asked if they have traveled to Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone. If they answer yes, they will be put into an isolation unit until a special ambulance from Mass General Hospital arrives on the Island.
Additionally, Ms. Bardwell said the hospital is bringing in a consultant from Sylvester Consultants in Hyannis on Monday to evaluate hospital housekeeping protocol. “We think it’s valuable to have a third party take a look at our procedures,” she said.
The first recorded Ebola fatality in United States occurred on October 8, when a man who’d recently returned from Liberia succumbed to the disease in a Dallas,Texas, hospital. Two attending nurses were infected with the virus, and one of them flew on a commercial flight to Ohio, unaware she had contracted the deadly disease. Both women are showing steady improvement, but the incident served as a reminder that no place is immune to a virulent virus in the jet-age.
“We hope it doesn’t happen here, but we’re doing everything we can to be prepared if it does,” Ms. Bardwell said, adding that the virus is not transmitted through the air, like the flu, but is spread only by direct exposure to an infected person’s bodily fluids.