By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There are no new reports of any confirmed Ebola cases anywhere in this country, but hospitals including many here in the Philadelphia area are preparing, just in case. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has a firsthand look inside one local hospital’s emergency room.
Doctors continue to say the chances of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is very rare, but in an abundance of caution hospitals are ready to handle any suspected cases.
The protective gear is ready to go. It starts with gloves in the Emergency Department at Hahnemann University Hospital. Hospital staff will need to protect themselves if they get a patient suspected of having Ebola. They’re completely covered, including a mask and face shield, to guard against coming into contact with any body fluids.
“Any saliva, urine, blood is what the concern is,” said Dr. Eric Stander, in the Emergency Department at Hahnemann. He says hospitals have been getting daily health alerts, outlining facts about the virus and measures to guard against it being spread, like what if someone walks into the Emergency Department with symptoms?
“It requires a close contact, so just rolling by somebody is not dangerous,” said Dr. Stander.
Stahl asked Dr. Stander, “So you’re not overly concerned?”
Dr. Stander replied, “Not overly. I just want to be correctly concerned.”
He says the most important measure is to find out if someone with flu-like symptoms has been to West Africa or in contact with someone who has.
“We’ve alerted the staff, educated the staff to look for signs and symptoms of Ebola, and more importantly to ask the questions,” said Dr. Stander.
If there’s a suspected case, the patient would be immediately be taken to an isolation room. That’s where other contagious illnesses are treated, things like meningitis and tuberculosis. It has a special filter and ventilation system, so air from the room doesn’t circulate out.
“It protects patients here in the emergency room, so that they can’t get exposed to anything that’s in this room,” said Dr. Stander.
While most isolation rooms are outfitted with that special ventilation, it’s not really that important for Ebola because it is not spread through the air, the way say the flu is.
The isolation unit in Atlanta where the two cases are being treated are much more sophisticated.
For CDC Ebola Information, visit- http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html