October 23, 2014

UAMS and Arkansas Department of Health answer Ebola questions


Hospitals across the state have recently reported having patients with Ebola-like symptoms. While there have been no confirmed cases in Arkansas health professionals from across the state gathered at UAMS to get their questions answered by the Arkansas Department of Health and UAMS.

The goal of the Wednesdays conference was to give definite answers. Dr. J. Gary Wheeler of the Arkansas Department of Health said he believes hospitals are doing the right thing by putting people on alert when they have patients who have Ebola-like symptoms.

“What we have accomplished in addressing this particular problem is that we are starting to see hospitals in other places begin to set up systems so that they screen the first contact of anyone that has been out of the country for say 30 days and what that’s going to allow us to do as we go forward is to have automatic systems to catch anyone who might come in with any type of illness that would put people at risk,” Wheeler said.

The panel answered questions like what hospitals should do if they run out of personal protective equipment, PPE.

Dr. Roxane Townsend, UAMS Medical Center CEO said, “We do work with each other to make sure that if there is a specific need at a hospital, sister hospitals would step up and share those resources.”

Even with the slew of questions answered Wednesday, the Arkansas Department of Health said both the community and health professionals need to put things in perspective and realize there is a very slim chance that anyone here will have to deal first hand with the virus.

Answering questions like if there is such a thing as an Ebola vaccine.

Dr. Holly Maples UAMS College of Pharmacy said, “There will currently be about a million and a half to two million doses available hopefully by the first of the year but those doses will be allotted to go to Africa where we are seeing the biggest hit with Ebola currently.”

The Arkansas Department of Health and UAMS both agreed preparation is key.

“We are working with TSA  on how we would manage a plane that came with a patient that had Ebola if it happened to land in the Little Rock airport and we have a draft plan for that,” Wheeler said “The greatest benefit or the silver lining if you will of all of this preparation is that we are putting in a system that will be there in time going forward that will protect us in the future.”

UAMS will conduct another question and answer presentation at UAMS for the community on Friday at Noon.

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