BWWMH implements Ebola protocol

Published 11:13 am Thursday, October 16, 2014

With the Ebola virus infecting two nurses after treating a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital has implemented a protocol in case an Ebola patient is in Demopolis.

Tina Norwood, who works with the Alabama Department of Public Health, and Cindy Parten, director of professional standards at BWWMH, addressed nurses and department heads Wednesday about the protocol in the event of an Ebola patient coming into the hospital.

The Demopolis Fire Department will train emergency room nurses, certain maintenance staff and any employees who want the training on how to use a Hazmat suit and other Hazmat procedures.

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“We’ll work with the fire department next week,” Parten said. “They’re all Hazmat certified, so they’re a great asset for us. Taking off the Hazmat suit is very high-risk, so they can help train our staff on how to do that safely.”

DFD Chief Tommy Tate said making sure the staff knows how to work with the equipment will be critical.

“We’re trying to work with them on the equipment they have because putting on and taking off the suits are critical, especially if they’re infected,” he said. “We’re trying to make a gameplan in case something happens.”

Parten added that the hospital wants as few people as possible to come in contact with the patient, so the ER nurses and a few others will primarily be used.

The protocol will be for outpatient room 4 to be used for a patient because it is more isolated than most other rooms, and can be accessed easily from the emergency room without going through many other parts of the hospital.

“In Dallas, they had to fly by the seat of their pants because there really wasn’t a protocol in place,” Parten said. “We want to make sure we know exactly what we’re doing in case we’re faced with a case of this. We’re trying to go through all scenarios to make sure all our bases are covered. We want to try to keep staff contact to a minimum.”

She added that the main objective for BWWMH will be to get the patient out to another hospital, which would likely be UAB.

“The diagnosis is a time lag,” she said. “It takes about two days to diagnose it, and we’re required to hospitalize and isolate the patient if they’re at risk. We don’t have an infectious disease doctor on staff, so we’re going to mainly be doing supportive care until we can get them somewhere else.”