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Ebola Preparedness

Ebola Preparedness
Message from Dianne Doyle, CEO There has been extensive media coverage of the Ebola virus in recent weeks, including increasing concern over the outbreak in West Africa and the cases confirmed in the United States and other countries that involved transmission to front-line clinicians. Given the stories we are hearing, it is no surprise that anxiety levels are rising and that health-care providers and the general public are asking questions about how well prepared we are in our own country, province, and health authority. I would like to emphasize that we have not had any Ebola cases in Providence Health Care or Vancouver Coastal Health hospitals and that there are no confirmed cases in the province or within Canada. Our Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, has also stated that the risk in B.C. is very low. I want to stress that we are taking steps to ensure we are ready to care for an Ebola patient in the unlikely event that a case is confirmed. In addition, our hospitals and health-care centres have been given step-by-step procedures for assessing potential Ebola virus and identifying patients with symptoms and a history of travel to the Ebola-affected region. The safety of staff and patients in dealing with a virus like this is our highest priority. We have learned valuable lessons from our experiences with SARS and H1N1 and are using these learnings to shape how we respond to other infectious diseases, like Ebola. Representatives from Providence Health Care and Vancouver Coastal Health are also participating in a provincial task force, led by the Provincial Health Officer, to collaborate on common areas of concern and to ensure consistency in our response across British Columbia and nationally. The task force is looking at experiences in Dallas and other jurisdictions and will be refining our protocols as we learn from these incidents, so that we can ensure the safety of health-care workers and the public. We know that our staff and physicians working on the frontlines have significant concerns about the potential arrival of the Ebola virus. Please know that we are taking this situation very seriously and that actions are underway to ensure you have the equipment and training you need to protect yourself while providing care. I also want to pass along a letter to all health care workers from Health Minister Terry Lake for an update on work being done provincially (attached). MASK REQUIREMENTS It is important for front-line clinicians to be aware of the type of personal protective equipment necessary to handle a suspect or confirmed Ebola patient. Currently, Public Health Agency of Canada guidelines do not require an N95 respirator for assessment of suspect Ebola patients because it is not an airborne virus; N95s are still required for aerosol generating medical procedures (AGMPs). We are ensuring that we have a sufficient supply of N95 protective respirators for cases that may require them. INFECTION CONTROL & PPE TRAINING Starting this week our Infection Prevention & Control team is providing on-site training sessions related to the use of personal protective equipment, with specific focus on donning and doffing procedures. Initially, this training will be targeted to staff in the emergency departments and ICUs. While existing PPE supplies in the province provide a high degree of protection, please be aware that over the weekend PHAC will be reviewing PPE requirements and may make new recommendations to the provinces once this review is complete. The provincial task force will update these guidelines if necessary once these recommendations are made. An Ebola/Viral Hemorrhagic Fever web page has been created on PHC Connect to house important information for staff and physicians. It includes clinical tools and resources, guidance on the correct use of personal protective equipment, and valuable links to other reliable sources of information. This web page will be updated regularly and is the source for the most current information and documents related to our Ebola response. We will send updates as more information becomes available and key decisions are made related to our Ebola response. In the meantime, please share questions and comments with your manager or with key contacts listed on the Ebola preparedness web page, so that we can help support you in caring for our patients.