The Washoe County Health District has updated its infectious disease plan to include precautions for Ebola. The plan includes detailed checklists to determine whether a patient might have the disease, and protocols for hospitals and EMTs to follow if they suspect a patient here might have Ebola. Questions on the checklist— like the patient's travel history – can help assess the risk to the patient and health care workers.
Phillip Ulibarri, of the Washoe County Health District, says the CDC guidelines are shared with hospitals, doctors and other partners in Northern Nevada. "We follow those protocols; we promote those protocols among our partners. The people in Washoe County should know that we are giving health care providers the most current and updated information as we get it from the CDC," he said.
People on the front lines of health care, like paramedics, also follow specific policies for suspected Ebola exposure. At REMSA dispatchers ask questions designed to identify patients who may have an infectious disease. They pass along the information to first responders. "They notify the responding crew members that we have a positive screen, and that universal precautions are required. What that means to the paramedic is that they will don personal protective gear before they actually enter the scene,” said Aaron Abbott, who is the director of Operational Services at REMSA.
Abbott says he feels prepared if Ebola were to show up here. “We are, this week, coming out with specific training on Ebola. Every year we do emerging infectious disease training. Our crews are well prepared on signs and symptoms of any infectious disease,” Abbott said.