John Muir Health's Ebola Preparedness

The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa and the first patients diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., have understandably raised questions and concerns in our community. While the likelihood of having an Ebola patient in the communities we serve is very low, we continue to monitor developments closely and are actively preparing. We are participating on California Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) calls, as well as discussing best practices with other hospitals that have successfully treated Ebola patients without any staff members becoming infected. Our priorities are always the safety of our patients, community, staff, physicians and volunteers, and providing the best possible care.

Dedicated Ebola Response Care Teams: Our Concord and Walnut Creek medical centers have dedicated Ebola Response Care Teams. Each member of these teams is receiving extensive hands-on training with the designated Personal Protective Equipment that meets or exceeds California Occupational Safety and Health Department (Cal OSHA) and CDC Ebola protection standards, which means full skin coverage when the equipment is worn.

Training will be reinforced during drills and observations on an ongoing basis with our designated Care Team members and Emergency Department physicians, nurses and staff. In addition to our hospitals, our outpatient clinics, physician offices and Behavioral Health Center have also implemented patient travel screening procedures and staff is being trained as well. Screening for Travel History: Part of our existing intake process for every patient entering our Emergency Departments, Behavioral Health Center, Urgent Care Centers and physician offices is asking whether the patient has recently traveled outside of the country, or been in close contact with an ill person who has. A positive answer to these questions leads to more detailed questions about travel to specific countries in West Africa (currently Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone). This comprehensive screening process is the principal way to differentiate potential patients with Ebola, or other communicable diseases, from those with a more common illness that would not require isolation precautions.

Ebola Symptoms: Many of these symptoms are similar to those of other more common diseases, such as the flu, and may include:

  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)

Any of these symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days. . Remember, the important distinction between these symptoms and Ebola is travel to or close contact with someone who is ill and has travelled to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone.

Additional Important Information About Ebola:

  • Ebola is not easy to catch. The illness is not spread through the air.
  • Ebola is only spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with
    • blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
    • objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
    • infected fruit bats or primates (apes and monkeys)
  • People who have contracted Ebola are not infectious until they begin to show symptoms.

If You Have Symptoms or Think You've Been Exposed to Ebola

  • If you recently traveled to West Africa or have been in close contact with someone who has, and you are showing symptoms of Ebola, please call your primary care physician or an Urgent Care Center so we can consult with the County Department of Health.
  • Please be sure to call us before coming to a John Muir Health facility so we can ask some questions about your symptoms and get you the care you need.
  • Calling before you go to your physician’s office, Urgent Care or the Emergency Department helps our clinicians care for you and protect other members of the community. If you’re experiencing an emergency, please call 911.

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