Are Boston Hospitals Ready for Handling an Ebola Case?

Massachusetts General Hospital has procedures in place

It's no one's guess when someone with an infectious disease like the Ebola virus might walk into an emergency room at any hospital across the country. Because of that, detailed drills are done on a daily basis to make sure hospitals such as Massachusetts General Hospital are ready.

In this scenario, a man who just returned from Liberia came into the ER meeting several Ebola criteria.

And with a list of self diagnosed symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and fever, a phone call was made, quickly placing the emergency room on lockdown.

In a simulation, a series of steps was taken to minimize the contact this patient has with everybody else... And that does include the now infamous infectious disease protection suits some compare to hazmat suits.

Donning that suit is Mass. General emergency room nurse Jeff Chambers.

"What we want to do is put ourselves at the least risk possible. I don't think there's ever going to be zero risk," Chambers said.

And that's the point of drills like this where everybody, including the hospital security personnel, are part of the drill from start to finish.

In just a moment, the mock patient would enter into a room, which is a buffer zone between The outside world and the hospital. This is the first stop of the quarantine process to make sure this patient is as safe as possible to enter this hospital.

And while the patient is in the isolation room, other staff members are preparing another room down the hall for the patients critical care.

"That includes a team of doctors and nurses going through a checklist of exactly how they put on the right personal protective equipment ready in the room to be able to take them and then put the patient in that room as soon as it safe and ready," Dr. Paul Biddinger, medical director for emergency preparedness at MGH, said.

Once in the critical care room, the drill concludes with the proper doffing of those infectious disease suits.

"I don't believe there's any other way to do it except for physically put the suits on and have somebody watching, have somebody critique you after," Chambers said.

Chambers said he would feel safe if someone were to walk into Massachusetts General Hospital with Ebola.

"As long as I would make sure I did the right thing with donning and doffing the equipment, but I feel that the equipment is absolutely safe to protect me," he said.

A reassurance from a man on the front lines of infectious disease protection at one of America's premier hospitals. 

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