Local urgent care clinics prepared to deal with Ebola virus

FOX 8 photo
FOX 8 photo

At every MHM Urgent Care, a diagnosis starts with questions.

"Anything that you have that is infectious, you have to ask," said Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich, who runs the clinics. "The most important things you have to consider when working somebody up and evaluating them for potential Ebola would be the symptoms and the history of exposure."

Cvitanovich says if a patient with the Ebola virus were to walk through the clinic doors, there are rules in place on how to proceed.

"What should be done is to notify the hospital, so they can start the wheels rolling of notifying the proper authorities," explained Cvitanovich. "Also, make a safe entrance into the hospital so they can be put into isolation without exposing the general public."

He says this also minimizes the number of healthcare workers who would come in contact with the virus.

The guidelines are based off a list of recommendations put of by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Advisories were issued to healthcare providers and facilities last Thursday.

All this comes as Thomas Eric Duncan, the first man diagnosed on U.S. soil died from the Ebola virus Wednesday. The federal government also implemented more aggressive screening procedures, like temperature testing, at select airports to prevent potential outbreaks.

Locally, Jefferson Parish President John Young will be meeting with state health officials and parish leaders Thursday to talk Ebola.

"Just get ahead of the curve," said Young. "Make sure we have our protocols in place, and then we can use this also as an exercise for any type of pandemic going forward. I think you need to do some screening, certainly, because you can't be too careful. But again, no cause for panic at this point in time."

That's what Dr. Cvitanovich wants to stress, as well.

"At this point, people in New Orleans should be interested," said Cvitanovich. "But not scared, not by any stretch of the imagination. He says air bourne illnesses, like the flu, poses a far bigger threat than the Ebola virus because it kills more people every year. I think we have a lot of other infections things we can worry about that are far more dangerous."

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