U.S. hospitals have gone on alert since two American healthcare workers were brought to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta this month after being infected with the Ebola virus while treating Ebola patients in West Africa.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for hospitals on identifying and treating Ebola patients. But those recommendations, which do not include the head-to-toe “moon suits” used in West African hospitals and at Emory, have drawn criticism for not going far enough in protecting U.S. healthcare workers.
“There is a lot of angst and consternation among healthcare workers when they look at full-body suits and full facial protection, leggings and everything else they see in Africa and they wonder, 'Why are we not having the same recommendations for the same level of protection for ourselves?' ” said Wava Truscott, director of medical services for Kimberly-Clark Health Care, a Dallas-based supplier of infection prevention products.
Last week, a patient at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento (Calif.) Medical Center was tested for possible Ebola infection. State health officials announced Thursday that test results were negative.
A 30-year-old female patient at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque is also being tested for the virus after returning recently from Sierra Leone.
Over the past month, the CDC said it has received 68 calls from hospitals in 29 states regarding possible cases of Ebola. Of those 68 cases, 59 were deemed to be false alarms. The agency conducted tests in the other nine cases, with seven testing negative and results pending for the remaining two.