NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — If Ebola does strike, Yale-New Haven Hospital stands ready to protect patients and staff.
And it turns out they are taking steps far above what the CDC recommends. Practice makes perfect at YNHH.
“Charge Nurse will be notified that there’s a potential Ebola patient here,”said Don MacMillan, Emergency Management Coordinator.
There is no Ebola patient. This is just a drill, in case there is one. It started with questions from the triage nurse in the Emergency Department.
Heidi Gaudio asked, “What part of Africa were you in sir?”
A temperature check shows the person playing the role of a patient has a high fever. That triggers a coordinated response. Only staff trained to suit up and care for a potential Ebola patient, is called in.
“We had an experience with a viral hemorrhagic fever back in 1994 and so we are probably more prepared to deal with this than most because had procedures and processes already in place,” said Don MacMillan-Emergency Management Coordinator.
They start with a buddy system, an extra set of eyes to ensure the gear is put on and taken off properly.
“Some of the cases that have tested now positive today for Ebola Virus have probably come in some lapses in terms of taking off the personal protective equipment,” said Emergency Physician, Dr. Jay Bonz.
Blood samples taken from a possible Ebola patient are handled with special care.
Dr. Bonz said, “they go down by a courier. They don’t go down with any other laboratory specimens and they are run on separate equipment.”
And every patient who comes through there — is asked about fever, travel and if they have been in contact with an Ebola patient.
MacMillan stressed, “we want to make sure because, just because you have a sprained ankle today doesn’t mean you weren’t in Liberia 10 days ago and may develop a fever now.”
Plus with information still so fluid, patients will initially be treated in negative pressure rooms.
“We have in our emergency department,” said Dr. Bonz, “four negative pressure rooms so we can isolate people from airborne precautions.”
In case the virus takes an unexpected turn.
MacMillan explained, “we have the resources available and if it turns out through normal disease processes that Ebola is spread by airborne, then we will already be ready for it.”
The dry run gets everyone prepared for the worst case scenario. The hospital also has a stockpile of the personal protective equipment for public health emergencies.