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Pardee forms Ebola response team

RN Robert Myers helps Santiago Zamudio, an environmental services supervisor, suit up. They are part of Pardee Hospitals Ebola response team. RN Robert Myers helps Santiago Zamudio, an environmental services supervisor, suit up. They are part of Pardee Hospitals Ebola response team.

Although the chance is remote that an Ebola patient will walk into Pardee Hospital, the hospital has adopted a strategy to be ready if it happens.

On Thursday, the hospital unveiled its Ebola response strategy, a team approach that sets out the process for identifying a potential Ebola sufferer, isolating the patient to protect other patients and medical personnel, treating the patient and safely disposing of material that the patient contacts.
Dr. Robert Kiskaddon, Pardee's chief medical officer, described the hospital's new SWAT team — for Strategic Workplace Anti-contamination and Treatment — a core group of 12 doctors, nurses, security and houskeeping personnel. The all-volunteer team of communicable disease fighters has been trained in the disease response protocol and is ready to deploy the minute a triage nurse identifies a potential Ebola patient.
"What we have identified as a theme is probably the most important thing we can do is clinically isolate people," said Kiskaddon. "We clinically isolate people, prevent them from infecting other patients and our team members who are caring for them. To that end we've had a very collaborative process in the hospital.
"We have clinicians, we have people from facilities, we have people from the public health department, we have people from registration so we can get their medical record numbers in on these patients," he said. "We have housekeeping, who are all part of this, because in addition to the clinical management of these patients, disposal of waste is considered to be a big problem."
IMG 3560Dr. Robert T. Kiskaddon talks about the Ebola response strategy.By limiting exposure to the trained SWAT team and keeping the patient isolated, Pardee will minimize the risk of infection.
"Those will be the only people in the hospital who have direct contact with the patient," the chief medical officer said. "All the people on this SWAT team have volunteered to participate in this so anybody who has a particular reason for not wanting to deal with an Ebola patient didn't have to volunteer."
On Wednesday, about 32 people conducted "a table top exercise" and mapped out how the hospital would respond to an Ebola case, from the minute the patient walked in to treatment. Pardee, like all hospitals, has received advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and also from the UNC Health Care system that it belongs to.
On Thursday morning, the hospital conducted "an unannounced drill, where we had a stimulated patient come through the door, and that worked great," Kiskaddon said. "The patient was rapidly identified and rapidly isolated and the protocol kicked into place."

One of the SWAT team members, Robert Myers, did not hesitate to raise his hand for the duty.
"In Florida I took care of dozens of TB patients, patients with MRSA, stuff that's pretty bad," said Myers, a registered nurse. "I was pretty well trained down there in those type of infections, obviously that was airborne. I was dealing with those things on a daily basis. I have a comfort level of taking care of patients like that."
Ebola is not airborne but is spread by contact through blood or body secretions, Kiskaddon said. The public perception of Ebola, he said, has been similar to the early days of HIV 35 years ago.
"There was a lot of questions about how it was spread, what the origin was, how the contagion was acquired,” he said. “So as we learn more about this disease these protocols are going to change.”

An important part of the SWAT training has been putting on and taking off the protective suit, two layers of gloves, a hood, eye protection and surgical mask.

“The drills that we do in the donning and doffing of the protective equipment is probably the most significant thing we can do,” Kiskaddon said. “This is a communicable disease and we deal with communicable diseases every day. And as we enhance our preparedness for Ebola, all we’re doing is enhancing our ability to deal with communicable diseases.”

The public rollout of the Ebola strategy — attracting coverage from two local newspapers and two television stations — reflected the hospital's recognition that the public wants to know whether Pardee would be prepared in the remote chance that an Ebola patient walks into the emergency room.

“Based on our drill this morning," Kiskaddon said, "I would say yes we are prepared if something like that happens."