Local hospital increases Ebola preparation

Georgia Regents Medical Center increases Ebola preparation

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - After a nurse in Dallas tested positive for Ebola, hospitals in the CSRA are changing the ways doctors and nurses prepare to fight the Ebola outbreak.

It's a disease doctors hope never makes it to Augusta. But, if a patient is diagnosed with Ebola, the staff at Georgia Regents Medical Center has had proper training, and they have the proper equipment.

Rebecca Walker, director of hospital epidemeology, said it was after cases started popping up in the United States that the staff realized how fast the disease was moving.

"We've recognized that this is a little more eminent than we had planned for, and that we needed to do some additional training of our staff," Walker said.

Training that includes how to properly put on and take off the full suit of personal protective equipment, or PPE, and proper screening questions to ask when a patient comes into the hospital. Dr. Phillip Coule, the GRU vice chairman of emergency medicine, said the staff then took the training a step further.

"We did an Ebola drill where we had a patient come in with Ebola-like symptoms to make sure that the systems are working. And we learned some things from that, so now we're going to continue to refine the process and refine the training to make sure that we plug up any of those issues or those holes that we've identified," Coule said.

The staff started their training when they first got word of the outbreak overseas. After the disease hit American soil, they made sure the hospital's first line of defense was ready.

"We're doing more targeted education for our high risk staff. Those are folks in the emergency department, and in our clinics and our environmental services staff," Walker said.

Doctors say this training will continue to evolve and will be worked into the standard training program.

"We're doing more classes. We're doing some new training videos for our personnel, specifically demonstrating some of the key points of putting on and taking off the PPE to minimize the potential for risks there," Coule said.

With all of this training and the proper equipment, the staff here at Georgia Regent's feel that they are fully prepared just in case they experience an Ebola emergency.

In order to answer any questions the public has about Ebola, the Georgia Regents University Center for Public Service is hosting a forum with a panel of experts. The public forum will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 21 in University Hall 170 on the Summerville Campus. If you have questions about the forum, call the GRU Center for Public Service at 706-797-1710.

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