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Originally published October 9 2014

NY hospitals conducting Ebola drills to prepare for possible pandemic outbreak

by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer

(NaturalNews) When the first stray case of Ebola came to America, it went unidentified for several days, traveling from Liberia to Dallas, Texas, on multiple flights. After heading to a Dallas hospital, the patient's case still wasn't properly identified, and he was sent home with useless antibiotics. Health officials didn't recognize that the patient was suffering from Ebola until his second visit to the hospital. That's when he was quarantined and ultimately given an experimental drug. Not long after, he passed away.

New York hospitals are going into full-on preparation mode to make sure that they don't make the same mistakes that the Dallas hospital did. New York hospitals are now setting up drills to test the healthcare workers' ability to identify an Ebola patient beforehand. Fake patients are being brought into emergency rooms to test hospital staff. The goal of the drills is to get healthcare workers to ask one simple question, "Have you traveled recently?"

Healthcare workers looking for common symptoms and suspicions to quarantine potential Ebola patients

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is rolling out a citywide plan that is to be "much more aggressive" than how Dallas, Texas, responded to suspected Ebola cases. "We know that if we have even the possibility that someone may have Ebola that they're going to be handled in a very careful and aggressive manner. So I feel very, very confident. All New Yorkers should feel confident," he said in recent public announcement.

"If a patient does not get identified early, you have what happened in Dallas," said Dr. Ross Wilson, chief medical officer at the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. "The first thing is that you get more people in the community in contact with Ebola. The second thing is that you can increase the risk to health-care workers."

Dr. Wilson said that unidentified hospital workers are being paid to walk into one of the 11 public emergency rooms in New York and pretend to have fever, headache and abdominal pain. The drill is set up to make healthcare workers to identify a potential Ebola threat immediately and ask patients if they have recently traveled from Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia -- the three nations struck the hardest by Ebola.

If a healthcare worker does identify an Ebola patient in the drill, then they are to immediately put on protective equipment and isolate the patient. This new training method could help hospitals identify potential Ebola cases before it spreads to healthcare workers, but the method could also be counterproductive, causing people without Ebola to be isolated when they really have a completely different illness. This may cause an influx in false positive Ebola diagnoses.

Dr. Wilson says the way the training is coming along is "very positive." "We're getting it right with pretty much every step," he said, saying that, after the quarantine drill, senior medical staff evaluate the worker's performance so that the hospital can improve the efficacy of their response. The training is similar to that of reading early signs of cardiac arrest, measles and sepsis; however, in the case of Ebola, the patient is isolated and workers are to mobilize into protective gear.

The drills are being carried out all over, from NYU Langone Medical Center to Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and throughout the 16 hospitals in the North Shore-LIJ Health System.

To learn more about how to prepare for a potential Ebola crisis here in the U.S., be sure to check out:


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