ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Local health authorities are taking the possible threat of the Ebola virus coming to the area very seriously.
“We trained for infectious diseases all the while, but we’ve taken this to a new level,” said Phillip Sowa, St. Louis University Hospital Chief Executive officer. He says training is the key to battling the pandemic.
“We have to identify PPE’s, the equipment that people wear, we have to train people in their ability to put that equipment on appropriately and take it off appropriately and that’s what we are doing as we speak,” Sowa told News 4.
Health officials also put up signs asking patients if they have a fever, muscle aches, have been in contact with anyone from West Africa of if they have been there themselves to notify hospital staff immediately. Patients who answer yes will be given masks, isolated and interviewed by an infectious disease specialists.
Both St. Louis University and BJC have built isolation units to limit exposure to other stuff and patients.
“We want to be prepared, not panicked,” St. Louis Health Department Director Pam Walker said.
The St. Louis Health Department has its own staff out working in pharmacies, schools and hospitals. Walker says at the first sign of trouble, the first call should be to the Health Department.
“We are visiting all the hospitals, we have gone to all six hospitals in the city to learn what they are doing to make sure they had the latest recommendations from the CDC to make sure they know us, how to contact us. We have systems in place to respond very quickly,” Walker said.
Some health care experts have been critical of a Texas Hospital that cared for the first Ebola patient in the United States because so many workers, up to 70, had contact with him. Sowa says this will not happen at St. Louis University Hospital.
“We are going to limit it to a very, very select few volunteers to care for these patients,” said Sowa.
On Wednesday, the Director of the National Institute of Health was at Washington University.
Doctor Francis Collins says Ebola may scare many Americans, but your chances of getting it are extremely small.
“Two-thirds of Americans are in fact worried that this might be something that affects them or their families. I think the evidence very strongly supports that that’s not going to happen,” Collins said.
Collins said there is a small study underway involving an Ebola vaccine. If the student continues to go well, a large scale test could begin in Dec. in West Africa.