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The Versailles Republican

October 16, 2014 • Headlines

The 2014 South Dearborn HS hosted IHSAA XC Sectional, All-Sectional Team. For a complete list of names, pick up today's The Versailles Republican at your local newsstand.
The 2014 South Dearborn HS hosted IHSAA XC Sectional, All-Sectional Team. For a complete list of names, pick up today's The Versailles Republican at your local newsstand.
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Local health facilities prepare for Ebola emergency

Mary Mattingly

While health officials implore Americans to not panic about the Ebola virus, local hospitals are reviewing and updating procedures as a precaution should the contagious virus spread.
Ebola virusTim Putnam, President of Margaret Mary Health issued a statement to staff Wednesday, “We want our staff and our community to know that we have initiated an Ebola Preparedness Plan to identify and treat Ebola patients based on guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. We are coordinating preparations and response plans with our local health department, EMS squads, and regional partner hospitals. We have and will continue to devote time to make sure our staff understands the signs and symptoms, procedures and protocols involved with treating an infectious disease like Ebola.”
Jennifer McFadden, infection preventionist at King’s Daughters’ Hospital, said, “We are at a low risk in this area, but we prepare for the worst and we take precautions.”

The first fatality of Ebola in the U.S. was Oct. 9 when Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, died from the virus. He contracted Ebola while visiting Africa. Earlier this week, it was announced that two health care workers who helped care for Duncan at a Texas hospital tested positive for Ebola. The Centers for Disease Control director admitted to mistakes made and a quicker response might have prevented the virus from spreading to workers. The National Nurses United union has alleged there were no protocols in place about how to deal with the deadly virus.

Governor Mike Pence joined leadership of the Indiana State Department of Health and the State Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams last week for a webcast with local healthcare providers on Indiana’s preparedness for Ebola.  “At this time, we have no reported cases of Ebola virus in Indiana; however, there is no doubt that the Ebola virus has been a cause for international concern and is a growing concern here in the U.S., now more than ever,” said Pence.  “In Indiana we have successfully managed emerging diseases before, most recently, the H1N1 Pandemic Flu in 2009 and the first U.S. case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome earlier this year.” He’s confident the health care community could respond effectively should a case arise.

Margaret Mary Health and King’s Daughters’ Hospital infection control staff members have reviewed procedures. “We have infection control triage questions geared toward symptoms and relevant travel history that are asked of patients,” said Rachel White, infection prevention coordinator with MMH. Jennifer McFadden at KDH said they have distributed education materials to staff on what symptoms to look for, “Our emergency department made some changes. We started isolation on anyone with fever, headache, diarrhea, until it is ruled out. We also ask about outside travel. That is the biggest indicator,” she noted. The thinking is, while unlikely here, it is better to be safe. White added that the hospital’s procedures are already in place for an emergency infectious disease event. “We just tailored our assessments to be sure to include the specifics of this particular virus,” she said. While emergency rooms may be the first area of contact for a patient, the infection protocols reach to registration, surgery, physician offices, home care and inpatient units, White said.

Local hospitals are already stocked with infection prevention materials, equipment and clothing. Indiana has managed outbreaks before, such as the H1N1 (initially called the bird flu) in 2009. “The basics of infectious disease preparedness are the same; however, with each different type of infection or strain you must tailor your response,” Rachel said.

Dr. David Welsh, Ripley County health physician officer, said this outbreak has made the CDC rethink its protocols. He mentioned how 200 workers contracted to clean airplanes and restrooms in New York’s airport went on strike for better gloves and uniforms. Welsh commented that with H1N1 you could get it just by walking outside; Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with bodily secretions. “However, I would be much more concerned if a loved one contracted Ebola.”

Enterovirus D68
The other health concern in this country is the D68 virus. The CDC says five people have died from the respiratory virus, and it has sickened nearly 700 people in 46 states. This virus is more common in young people, and has flu-like symptoms. The virus can spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with contaminated surfaces. There is no vaccine. If anything, this recent outbreak of viruses may give people pause to get a flu shot. Vicky Powell, Ripley County public health administrator, said they were busy Tuesday administering flu vaccines. She recommends making an appointment if you need a flu vaccine. Health care officials have said the flu is more likely to fill hospitals at this time of year than Ebola or D68. As McFadden said, “Ebola has a high mortality rate and we are not used to it. It’s a new disease and yes, it is pretty scary.”

The state department of health has been working with the CDC to track and prepare for the Ebola virus, according to the governor. And MMH staff met Tuesday to further discuss and update Ebola procedures. Welsh has received state health department information on D68 and sat in on some Ebola webinars for Indiana along with Powell. “The bottom line is it is better to err on the side of caution,” he said. He recommended to get the flu shot, encourage your neighbors and friends to do the same, and if you are traveling overseas, upon arrival back, be forthright if you were exposed to any viruses.

Vicky Powell and Milissa Terrill
Pictured left, Vicky Powell, Ripley County public health administrator, says the health department has been busy administering flu vaccines. Milissa Terrill, an IU East nursing student shadowing Powell, has received her vaccine. The vaccine costs $10 at the health department, and the department accepts Anthem, Sagamore/Cigma and Tri-Care insurance. It’s free for children on Medicaid, uninsured or underinsured. Appointments are recommended at the health department.

Pick up this week's edition of The Versailles Republican for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

• Ripley County sheriff's race: Candidates share views about running the office
• State to expand college program for students (page 8)
• Dream It. Do It. Campaign opens students to manufacturing opportunities (School Page)
• State police awarded anti-meth grant (page 2, section B)

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