Hospitals treat Ebola hype

Though the current risk for Ebola in the U.S. is low, hospitals continue to inform staff of Ebola procedures.


Nursing students Jin Lee and Eunice Lee practice taking each others blood pressure. Students involved in the nursing program are now preparing to serve overseas. | Aaron Fooks/THE CHIMES

Alanna Denton, Writer

Local California hospitals still prepare protocols to treat Ebola, despite news coverage of Ebola in the U.S. lessening in recent weeks.

Although the current outbreak is the largest in the documented history of West Africa, there exists miniscule risk of any such outbreak in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control. Despite this, local hospitals prepare healthcare workers to care for patients with the disease, especially as relief workers return home from Ebola struck nations.

Hospitals around the country continue to train their employees on related protocols that will ensure patient, hospital staff and community safety. Hoag Hospital of Irvine has educated its staff by sending email updates with protocols for and education about the virus, said Christine Ayala, a registered nurse at Hoag Hospital in Irvine.

“For education, we are required to do online modules about new policies/protocols,” Ayala said. “The ER in Irvine and Newport both ran drills or mock tests for what they would do if we have a suspected Ebola patient.”

Most hospitals provide specific training for staff with a higher potential for caring for patients with Ebola, like healthcare workers positioned in emergency departments and intensive care units.

Sam Hopping, a fifth year nursing major, worked alongside nurses in the emergency department at Hoag Hospital of Irvine and had the opportunity to take part in one of the Ebola training sessions.

“When they did the scenario where somebody pretended to come in and have Ebola, they did very well with setting up the room and all the isolation gear,” Hopping said.

An individual can only contract Ebola if the body fluid of someone with active Ebola symptoms enters breaks in the skin or mucous membranes, according to the CDC.

While Ebola is of tremendous concern in West Africa, there exists little risk for an outbreak in the U.S. because no new cases have occurred in the US for weeks, said Pat MacFarland, CEO for the Association of California Nurse Leaders.

“The public needs to know about Ebola, but the current risk in California is very low,” MacFarland said.

Donell Campbell, associate professor of nursing, said that the media coverage of Ebola in early November caused a lot of paranoia in the U.S.

“There was a lot of media hype. We haven’t heard about Ebola in the last several weeks and yet nothing has changed really in Western Africa. I think the media is a little remiss in how they have handled it,” Campbell said.

The Biola Student Health Center developed protocols that follow CDC guidelines, and is prepared with Ebola kits to protect health center staff. Furthermore, the health center has directions from the LA County Health Department for safe transfer of individuals at risk for Ebola, said Kristin Phelps, director of Biola Student Health Center.

In the instance that students at Biola contract Ebola, University of California Irvine Medical Center is the local receiving center. Confirmed Ebola patients will be sent there for treatment and immediately quarantined, Ayala said.

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