Ebola training: New Orleans doctors learn how to control the disease

FOX 8 photo
FOX 8 photo

At least one New Orleans hospital spent Wednesday morning training staff on the key differences between taking care of Ebola patients and patients with other infectious diseases.

If you visit a hospital or a clinic, you should expect to be asked if you've visited West Africa in the past 21 days, as per a Centers for Disease Control advisory.

"If the answer to that is yes, then the next question should be - do you have any flu like symptoms?" said Dr. Peter DeBlieux of Interim LSU Hospital.

DeBlieux said that key communication is one of a few changes Interim LSU Hospital is enacting now that Ebola has made its way into the United States.

"There's a different few things with Ebola, and it's mostly handing the waste, and handing the sheets and handling patient gowns," said DeBlieux. "Those items need to either be autoclaved or they need to be incinerated, and so that's different from other standard infectious waste."

DeBlieux said ER doctors and residents learned how to protect themselves and prevent disease spread on Wednesday morning.

The table-top exercises included, "putting on protective gear, actually using some spray germ that can show up with a black light so you actually know how you are transmitting it with your hands," said DeBlieux.

New Orleans Health Department Director Charlotte Parent said that information, and much more, is being disseminated throughout state in healthcare systems.

"It really is about the communication - making sure that if and when we've identified any particular issues, that we are doing out best to isolate what we can," said Parent.

Isolating patients is one aspect, though, that Interim LSU Hospital says its already fully prepared for. DeBlieux said in the ER, there are spaces regularly used for isolation.

"We have two rooms that are dedicated negative pressure rooms. Typically we use those rooms for patients with tuberculosis. We also use those rooms for patients with a strong suspicion of meningitis, but it would be an ideal setting for Ebola virus because we wouldn't want that virus to travel outside of that room," said DeBlieux.

However, for all other considerations regarding the disease, training can be key.

The malaria scare earlier this month was a chance to review procedures and enhance best practices going forward, "so we can better ready ourselves for anything that comes up," said Parent.

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.