Hartford, Conn. (WTNH) — Hospitals across the state are scrambling to meet Governor Malloy’s deadline to conduct Ebola drills within the next seven days. These drills were already in the planning stages, but planning got ramped up a lot today.
Because there is a significant Liberian population in Hartford, there has already been reason to use some of the new protocols. Just yesterday three people came into the emergency room at St. Francis Hospital who had recent contact with people from countries in Western Africa.
Dr. Ulysses Wu, Chief of Infectious Diseases at St. Francis Hospital, explained what happens in a case like that, “We would then ask you take one of these masks put it onto your face, ask you to create a seal and what we would do is ask you to come with us to an isolation room at this point.”
There are six isolation rooms like this on the Emergency Room level with sealed containers of the emergency isolation suits right nearby but as of today there has been no suit-up Ebola drill. A nurse at the hospital demonstrated one of the protective suits at a planning meeting today. It takes two people assisting to put it on and take it off.
Dr. Wu is also head of the 100 member Ebola task force here, “We expect to have a full ‘suit-up’ drill in the next week, we will probably have mock drills with knowns and mock drills with unknowns…so surprize drills as well.”
Hartford HealthCare says two of its hospitals; in New Britain and Norwich, have already had drills and practice suiting up and taking off was going on this afternoon and is expected to continue into the weekend.
“We are absolutely insuring that they can remove the gear without contaminating themselves,” said Dr. Rocco Orlando of Hartford HealthCare.
Dr. Orlando says full drills at the hospitals in Hartford, Meriden and Windham will be underway within three days.
Dannette Alexander, R.N., the nursing director of emergency services demonstrated a protective suit late today and said, “It took about ten minutes to get on, it’s pretty comfortable, a little bit warm but I have the helmet with the fan, it’ helping a little, circulate the air.”
There is a ‘hospital within a hospital’ at Hartford Hospital specifically for Ebola. Any patients at any of the other hospitals would be quickly transfered to that special unit.