Virginia hospitals announce plan for treating Ebola patients
A trade group representing Virginia hospitals on Monday announced how they would respond in treating an Ebola patient.
The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) unveiled a “tiered response” for hospitals and health systems for treating suspected and confirmed Ebola cases in Virginia.
Under the plan, developed by VHHA in coordination with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), all Virginia hospitals will be prepared to screen, isolate and evaluate potential Ebola patients.
If a case of Ebola is confirmed, the plans says “the first recourse will be to determine if the patient can be transferred to a national bio-containment facility.” If that option is unavailable, the patient will be sent to either the University of Virginia Medical Center or VCU Medical Center, the state’s two designated Ebola treatment hospitals.
If a bed is not available at U.Va. or VCU, the patient will be handled at a hospital with the capability to treat an Ebola patient at the system or regional level.
In announcing the plan, VHHA indicated that hospitals will need financial help from the commonwealth and the federal government.
“Designating specific hospitals for the treatment of Ebola patients is a significant step in our preparedness efforts,” VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton said in a statement. “However, due to the high costs associated with treating Ebola patients, federal and state funding is essential to supporting the treatment of Ebola patients and the containment necessary to prevent the spread of the disease to the general public. The federal and state governments must be prepared to commit financial resources to support the preparation for, and treatment of, Ebola patients.”
U.Va. and VCU officials said their hospitals are prepared to treat Ebola patients. “The University of Virginia Medical Center is prepared to care for patients with this serious and potentially life-threatening disease,” Pamela Sutton-Wallace, CEO of the University of Virginia Medical Center, said in a statement. “This plan balances the public health needs of the commonwealth while recognizing the specialized care available at the University of Virginia needed to combat this disease.”
The Ebola hospital treatment plan builds on the federal Hospital Preparedness Program, which VHHA has overseen since 2002 through a partnership with VDH.
Other elements of the plan include:
• Because of the intense level of care needed for treating Ebola patients, a pool of qualified medical personnel and staff would be developed to supplement staffing for non-Ebola patient care at the designated hospitals;
• Training and educational initiatives also would be developed to ensure treatment facilities have adequate in-house medical staff to handle the workload associated with Ebola patients; and
• Equipment and other resources would need to be pooled to support hospitals treating suspected or confirmed Ebola patients.