Preparing for Ebola at QHC
In the middle of October a patient who was briefly in Sierra Leone presented himself to the BGH emergency department with Ebola like symptoms. Thankfully the patient tested negative for the virus a couple of days later and was able to return home.
"Although there was a low probability in this particular case we always believed there was the potential for someone to arrive at one of our hospital emergency departments with Ebola like symptoms," maintained Dr. Dick Zoutman, QHC Chief of Staff. "We were already preparing for that possibility and the staff who handled this potential situation executed the planning with a high degree of professionalism."
Even though we are far from the Ebola outbreak, QHC had begun preparations earlier in the summer with procedures in place should a patient arrive at one of our emergency departments (ED) suspecting they had been exposed to the virus. There are designated isolation rooms in each hospital's ED and front line staff have been fully trained and equipped to handle another potential case.
The current process for a patient who is suspected of having Ebola would be immediate isolation and transfer. As directed by the Ministry of Health the suspect individual would be transferred for testing at Kingston General Hospital as one of 7 Ministry designated testing hospitals. There are 4 designated treatment hospitals in Ontario: Hospital for Sick Children, London Health Sciences, Ottawa Hospital and University Health Network who will treat Ebola patients from our region.
What is Ebola?
The Ebola virus disease is a rare and severe viral disease. The virus can infect both humans and non-human primates (such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees). When infected, people can get very sick, with fever, intense weakness, headache, sore throat and pains, and in severe cases, may bleed from different parts of the body (i.e. hemorrhage).
The Ebola virus does not spread easily from person to person. It is spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids, not through casual contact nor is it air borne. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care.
Travel Health Notices for Canadians
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued Travel Health Notices recommending Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to countries in West Africa affected by the ongoing Ebola virus disease outbreak. Individuals who have travelled to these regions should follow Public Health Ontario’s advice for returning travellers.