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Providence is One of Eight Washington Hospitals Prepared for Ebola Patients

Published November 17 2014

Message from Joanne Roberts, Chief Medical Officer

Over the past 10 weeks, Providence Regional Medical Center, Providence Medical Group, our county health officer, our partner medical groups, and the EMS community have been working together to prepare to identify, transfer, confirm, and treat patients with Ebola viral disease.

In addition, Washington State Department of Health has been working with hospital leaders to assure that patients will receive the safest, most expert care possible, no matter where they live in Washington.

In our community, we are engaging in travel screens of all patients; the county health officer responds to each “positive” travel screen; our EMS community has set up transfer plans to get “possibly infected” patients to PRMCE; our ED and lab have drilled on processes to sequester and confirm or rule out infection; and our critical care colleagues have practiced accepting and caring for patients with confirmed infection in a sequestered area of the CCU.

Today, State Secretary of Health, John Wiesman, will announce a plan to “regionalize” the care of patients with confirmed Ebola infection to eight hospitals that have been working together with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These hospitals are:

  • Providence Regional Medical Center Everett
  • CHI Franciscan Harrison Medical Center
  • Harborview Medical Center/UW Medicine
  • MultiCare Tacoma General Hospitals
  • Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center
  • Seattle Children's Hospital
  • Swedish Medical Center Issaquah
  • Virginia Mason Medical Center

Leaders of these eight hospitals have committed to working together to share resources and expertise in order to create a network of safe care for every patient while not overloading the resources of any one medical center. While the risk of an Ebola patient in Washington remains extremely low, these centers are taking a “when, not if” approach. Such an outlook will also help us all to prepare for other infectious diseases and mass-casualty events that could occur at any time.

Dr. Wiesman, said, “I am proud of these hospitals for stepping up to the challenge to ensure that Washington State is prepared. The many doctors, nurses, and support staff needed to provide safe and quality care for an Ebola patient is large, and once again, Washington’s health care professionals are to be applauded for their professionalism and commitment.”

PRMCE, like all of the hospitals, is working through a 113-item checklist that has been assembled by the Centers for Disease Control, which will be visiting all eight centers by year’s end. This checklist includes:

  • Facilities: Isolation areas to separate a possible infected individual from the public. We currently have designated areas in the ED and CCU, and we are investigating even more secure space.
  • Laboratory: Ability to safely handle possible Ebola specimens for testing at the state lab in Shoreline, as well as appropriate testing to be done at the point of care of patients.
  • Equipment: Adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies to support patient care. Not only have the hospitals committed to sharing supplies, we at PRMCE have the Providence Health & Services supply chain to keep us adequately stocked.
  • Services: Ability to receive the patient and transport to an isolation room; ability to manage and discard wastes safely. Both PRMCE and County Health Officer Gary Goldbaum have been working with local authorities to assure safe disposal of waste.
  • Training: Infection control policies, protocols, and practices specific to the Ebola virus. Both at PRMCE and across PHS, tremendous work has been done to assure that we all have basic knowledge and that specific groups receive extra training.
  • Practice: We continue to run daily workshops in use of PPE through a three-buddy system, as well as conducting community and internal drills to assure safety of patients and staff. We also are reaching out for volunteers to become experts through even more intense practice.

While we as a medical community continue to prepare, each of us needs to continue to be familiar with the PRMCE Ebola Response Plan, which is the best single source for information on how to prepare and care for a suspected Ebola patient. In addition, PHS has a more general information site that is accessible through the Northwest Washington Region Intranet Homepage. And, of course the CDC website continues to be a definitive resource: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/.

In addition, we are seeking volunteers who are willing to participate in advanced Ebola training— colleagues who will serve as our vanguard in caring for patients. Since we first reached out for volunteers last Wednesday, more than 25 have responded that they are ready to serve. If you are willing, please contact me or the following:

Nurses: Barbara Hyland-Hill, CNO (Barbara.Hyland-Hill@providence.org)

Physicians: Joanne Roberts, MD, CMO (Joanne.Roberts@providence.org )

Laboratory: Judy Ferrel, Director of Laboratory Services (Judy.Ferrel@providence.org)

Environmental Services: Mark Jupiter, Manager of Environmental Services (Mark.Jupiter@providence.org )

If you have questions about specific areas of our preparedness, feel free to reach out to the Ebola Logistics Team, which meets 2-3 times weekly. The team is led by Darren Redick and also consists of:

Bo Bodrak

Heather Coleman, RN

Judy Ferrell

Barbara Hyland-Hill, RN

Janine Holbrook, RN

Ryan Keay, MD

Kirsten Oh, MD

Gary Preston

Kin Ritchie, MD

Joanne Roberts, MD

Vipul Shah, MD

Carla Ward

Gary Wickman

Julie Zarn, RN

The NWR community has been challenged numerous times in the recent past, and in every circumstance, we have rallied together to demonstrate that “we are ready.” Because of the professionalism of every caregiver in the NWR, I know that will continue to be so.

Thank you