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Interior Health to consider ebola preparedness recommendations

Patrice Gordon in Sierra Leone.
Image Credit: Contributed/Red Cross
May 20, 2015 - 1:01 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - If the world has learned anything from the ongoing ebola epidemic, it’s that you cannot predict where and when a person carrying the dreaded virus will show up.

The Interior Health Authority learned that in December when one of its own employees, nurse practitioner Patrice Gordon, returned from Sierra Leone and began displaying flu-like symptoms, one of the early signs of possible infection.

Gordon was quickly isolated and tested at Kelowna General Hospital based on preliminary training staff had received only a couple of months earlier.

Fortunately for both Gordon and the Interior Health Authority, her tests proved negative for the often-fatal infection. Now Gordon will speak to the health authority board of directors about her experience as part of a report and recommendations on ebola preparation and response.

According to the report, the health authority put in 1,000 hours of planning, involving multiple departments, to develop assessment algorithms, devise departmental procedures and train staff in properly doffing and donning protective equipment, a gap that was quickly identified in the four African countries where the primary outbreak occurred.

Backed by research from the provincial ebola preparedness task force, the health authority will designate every primary health care facility within its boundaries as type one, meaning they must assess, stabilize and transfer any suspected ebola cases to a type two facility.

The only type two facility within the health authority will be Kelowna General Hospital, which will be able to conduct confirmatory testing and short term treatment before again transfering the patient to a type three facility. According to the report, the only type three facility in B.C. will be Surrey Memorial Hospital.

When treating a suspected ebola patient, staff will work in teams of three; the health care worker who will enter the room, a trained observer who will ensure all other protocols are followed correctly and a doffing assisstant who will help the health care worker out of his or her protective equipment.

Other protocols include procedures and training for staff collecting blood samples and performing laboratory tests and include methods for transporting specimem to the testing facility.

The board will consider the recommendations at its public board meeting on Tuesday, May 26, in Kelowna.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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