Though Ebola Cases Are in Decline, Hospitals Continue to Stay Vigilant

GREECE, N.Y. -- While the number of Ebola cases both abroad and the U.S. have been in decline, doctors and government agencies say the threat is not totally eliminated.  That's why every major medical center in our region still has a plan in place in case someone walks in with symptoms of the disease.
Thursday's drill at Unity Hospital started with a patient who presented with a history and symptoms that made doctors suspicious he may have been infected with Ebola.
The hospital's EBRT, or Emergency Biological Response Team, kicked into action. It includes staff members who have been highly trained in treating patients with infectious diseases. There more than 30 volunteers on that team who are always on call should someone come in with symptoms.
Someone with a suspected case of Ebola anywhere in our region would eventually be transferred to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the designated treatment center in our area, but if a patient walks into Unity with symptoms, doctors would have to treat that patient until he or she was moved. That's why leaders say it's important staff here be prepared.
"We're pleased to see that the number of cases has been dropping, these cases which have been mostly coming from West Africa," said James Haley, Chief Medical Officer, "but there has been no declaration that this is a crisis that is over, so we need to be prepared.  
"Just as this sort of snuck up on us last year and became a worldwide event, that can happen again."
The hospital has run several Ebola drills since the virus first really surfaced as a threat in the United States, but this was Unity's first large-scale drill, involving members from almost every department.
"There has been concerns, obviously, because it's new to us but through lots of training with the staff and best practices and working cohesively with Rochester Regional (Health Systems)," said Marina Dettori, nursing education director, "we have allayed their fears and they feel much more comfortable with the whole process."
Leaders said staff members did well, but there's always more to learn which can then be used at the next drill.
"After the drill is done, we'll give them a day or two and have after-action report, produce a document and plan our next drill and work on the improvements," said Jerry Seldes, Unity security director.