Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Knox County HD prepping for Ebola

With news that the Ebola patient in the Dallas hospital has died, it's probably worth noting what the Knox County Heath Department is doing regarding preparation (which - knock on wood - we hopefully won't have to worry about).

Here's is the office's response, regarding input its received from state and federal officials:

The Knox County Health Department (KCHD) has received a great deal of guidance via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Alert Network advisories and CDC conference calls. Our hospitals and public health systems are able to manage such patients with the infectious disease resources, plans and protocols that were in place prior to the Ebola outbreak.  Since the Anthrax attacks in 2001, there have been crucial federal grant funds available in the form of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Hospital Preparedness Programs to help local communities prepare for disease outbreaks and other medical emergency situations. KCHD has federal and local funding as well as dedicated staff to ensure our ability to respond to any public health threat.

At the state level, there have been numerous Tennessee Health Alert Network advisories sent to public health and hospital partners with information and guidance, including everything from triage guidance to personal protective equipment and infection control protocols for health care and EMS personnel. The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) has created a tabletop exercise for hospitals to utilize to work through the process of triaging, identifying and isolating a potential Ebola patient while assuring the personal safety of staff and others in the hospital. Hospitals throughout the state are having the tabletop exercises this week and next. TDH is gathering data from those exercises to determine where best to direct further education and guidance. 

On the local level, we are taking it a step further and hosting a combined tabletop exercise at the end of this month with our partners in the East Tennessee Regional Office of TDH - inviting public health, hospitals, EMS and other stakeholders to work through an Ebola scenario. We also conducted a training and orientation today for the Knox County Health Department’s Public Health Investigation Team.

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