An increasing number of U.S. hospitals are now equipped to treat patients with Ebola, giving nationwide health system Ebola readiness efforts a boost. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state health officials have identified and designated 35 hospitals with Ebola treatment centers, with more expected in the coming weeks.
Hospitals with Ebola treatment centers have been designated by state health officials to serve as treatment facilities for Ebola patients based on a collaborative decision with local health authorities and the hospital administration.
Ebola treatment centers are staffed, equipped and have been assessed to have current capabilities, training and resources to provide the complex treatment necessary to care for a person with Ebola while minimizing risk to health care workers.
“We continue our efforts to strengthen domestic preparedness and hospital readiness. I am pleased to announce that 35 hospitals have been designated by state health officials as Ebola treatment centers that are prepared, trained, and ready to provide care for a patient with Ebola,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell.
More than 80 percent of returning travelers from Ebola-stricken countries live within 200 miles of an Ebola treatment center. During their active monitoring, state or local public health authorities communicate every day with potentially exposed individuals to check for symptoms and fever for the 21 day incubation period of the Ebola virus.
“As long as Ebola is spreading in West Africa, we must prepare for the possibility of additional cases in the United States,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We are implementing and constantly strengthening multiple levels of protection, including increasing the number of hospitals that have the training and capabilities to manage the complex care of an Ebola patient. These hospitals have worked hard to rigorously assess their capabilities and train their staff.”
The additional facilities supplement the three national bio containment facilities at Emory University Hospital, Nebraska Medical Center, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which will continue to play a major role in our overall national treatment strategy, particularly for patients who are medically evacuated from overseas. Facilities will continue to be added in the next several weeks to further broaden geographic reach.
CDC also released guidance for states and hospitals to use as they identify and designate an Ebola treatment center. The guidance covers the range of capabilities hospitals need in order to provide comprehensive care for patients with Ebola. HHS, through the CDC and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR), also provided technical assistance to health departments and hospitals.
Each hospital with an Ebola treatment center has been assessed on-site by a CDC Rapid Ebola Preparedness (REP) team. The CDC REP team is staffed with experts in all aspects of caring for a patient with Ebola, including staff training, infection control, personal protective equipment (PPE) use, and details such as handling and management of the trash from the patient’s room. As of December 1st, CDC has conducted REP team assessments in over 50 hospitals in 15 states and Washington, D.C.
Because of the active monitoring program of returning travelers from countries where Ebola is present, federal health officials have a clear sense of where travelers from affected countries in West Africa are going and where Ebola treatment centers are most likely to be needed. The priority areas are jurisdictions served by the five international airports screening returning travelers for Ebola, cities with high proportion of returning travelers from West Africa, and cities with large populations of individuals from West Africa.
Read the complete HHS press release HERE