BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The state of Maryland has designated three specific hospitals to care for any potential Ebola patients should the need arise.
As Derek Valcourt explains, the move shifts the burden of training and preparing staff to some of the largest hospitals in the region.
When Ebola began showing up in Africa, all Maryland hospitals trained staff how to properly identify potential Ebola patients and isolate them to help contain the spread of the disease. But now, as the U.S. scrambles to handle its own recent Ebola cases, the governor and top state health staff announce they have designated three specific hospitals–Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland Medical Center and MedStar Washington Hospital Center–as places where Ebola patients would be taken for the intensive care that requires extra protection and training for health care workers.
“Rather than try to get every hospital up to that extra standard, it makes a lot of sense to focus our training, focus our preparedness, on hospitals that are ready for this challenge, that have designated teams of people,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein.
Hopkins’ highly trained teams have been practicing how to handle Ebola patients for months. The safety of their staff is a top priority.
In a statement, the University of Maryland Medical Center says: “We hope that a case of Ebola is never diagnosed in Maryland, but our cross-functional team is prepared… should the need arise.”
Any of the first Ebola patients in Maryland would most likely be sent to federally-designated centers–like the NIH in Bethesda or Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. But if those facilities are full, these designated centers in Maryland would be the second line of defense, ready to help.
“These kinds of moments are how you define yourself best as a health care provider,” said Dr. Stephen Evans, MedStar Health.
Evans says their Washington Hospital Center is not only the largest of their many hospitals in the region, the building’s layout makes it a good choice to handle these kinds of severe cases.
“We can put patients who are, in fact, diagnosed with Ebola in an area of the hospital where there will be less disruption to the rest of the patients and with the ability to isolate them,” he said.
Other states, including New York and New Jersey, have also already designated their own hospitals where Ebola patients would be sent, if needed.
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