Iowa Hospitals Prepare for Ebola

Oct 17, 2014

Though there’s only been two cases in the United States, hospitals across the nation and across Iowa are preparing for the possibility of caring for Ebola patients.

Michael Edmond is an infectious disease specialist and the Chief Quality Officer for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He says that hospitals across the nation are on a learning curve when it comes to handling Ebola patients.

“We always felt that unprotected exposures to infectious diseases were more risky than those that were protected. […] We saw the exact opposite in this case. [...] We’ve learned that as patients get sicker with Ebola, the infectivity increases markedly, these patients become very infectious. And even with appropriate gear, transmissions occurred, most likely because of the difficulties of removing the gear.”

Edmond the preparation includes hundreds of employees at the UIHC. He adds that though they’re already undergoing procedural training, that training is likely to change when the CDC releases new guidelines in the next couple of days.

The Ebola outbreak continues to be concentrated in West Africa. One Iowan, Kayla Casavant, says that though US media reports the capital city of Liberia, Monrovia, is “covered in dead bodies,” her experience in the city has been less dire.

“The past few weeks, things have stabilized a little bit. You see people start to go back about their normal activities, going to the market, going to business. [...] The biggest change is the mood of the population. When you talk to people, it’s always on their minds. Most people know someone who has died or been diagnosed with Ebola. People are on edge.”