This message is a follow up to the October 21, 2014 announcement that KVH had begun formalizing its preparation for Ebola disease posted.
Though the risk of a patient being diagnosed with Ebola in Kittitas County is very low, KVH began formalizing preparation for Ebola virus disease by initiating Incident Command on October 20. Within three weeks, the Incident Command group developed a comprehensive response plan for KVH that is specific to Ebola and provided in-person training to 351 employees.
Employees were trained based on their role in the organization. Those at highest risk received training in each of eight areas:
1. An overview of the Ebola illness
2. Screening of patients for symptoms and risk factors (primarily a history of recent travel to West Africa)
3. Responding to a patient who potentially has the illness
4. Managing laboratory specimens if testing is needed
5. Caring for a patient who potentially has the illness
6. Properly putting on and taking off personal protective equipment like full body coveralls, masks, and gloves
7. Decontaminating and disposing of infected items
8. Responding to a potential employee exposure to the illness
One of the more challenging aspects of response preparation was guidelines on the use of personal protective equipment for health care workers. Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have changed over the past month to mirror the protocols of hospitals in the United States that have successfully treated patients with Ebola without infection of health care workers. Those recommendations now include the use of a trained observer who watches the health care worker put on and take off the equipment and full body coverage with protective wear that leaves no skin exposed.
“Developing a plan and training over 300 employees within three weeks was an ambitious plan,” said Julie Hiersche, KVH Infection Control and Employee Health Coordinator. “Our employees have done fantastic work to help ensure that Kittitas County is prepared in the unlikely event that we encounter a patient with Ebola.”
In addition to KVH employees, the Incident Command working group included Kittitas County Public Health Department, local emergency medical services providers, and the Central Washington University Student Medical and Counseling Clinic.