"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Friday, October 3, 2014

My Concerns Regarding Ebola Continue to Grow

As the Centers For Disease Control continue to attempt to reassure the American public that there is nothing to worry about now that we have our first confirmed case of Ebola in the US, quite honestly, I feel that there is a great deal to be concerned about.  One can certainly start with the waste that is being created in the care and treatment of the patient in Dallas and the two patients who preceded him in Atlanta.

It appears that no one has told the Department of Transportation that they need to act "quick and in a hurry" on changing their regulations on the safe handling, transportation and disposal of products used in the care and treatment of these patients.  Right now, hospitals are pretty much on their own as no company that deals in hospital waste is permitted to handle Ebola waste at this time.  The hospital in Atlanta was forced to have their staff go to Home Depot stores throughout the city and buy all of their 30 gallon drums to store the waste.   Hospitals and public health agencies have been under the gun to gear up for Ebola while the DOT has done what appears to be little in addressing handling, transportation and disposal of Ebola waste.  

Then there is the demand associated with hospitals across the US in acquiring key items such as gloves, masks, linens, special supplies and equipment to be prepared for patients exposed to the Ebola virus.  With 13,500 active US visas from Liberia alone; all 5000 of US hospitals have to be prepared.  Since travel is not restricted from Liberia or west Africa, anyone of these people could walk through our doors at anytime.

It has already been determined that the Dallas patient from Liberia lied on his health application in order to travel to the US.  How many more are out there who will do whatever it takes to get to the US for treatment after an exposure? The gearing up will create immediate shortages not to mention the cost of acquisition for which we are pretty much on our own.  

Then there's the concern that no one wants to talk about which is using infected patients or their waste products are weapons for terrorism.  My opinion is that hospitals, public health agencies and even government need more time to prepare for this epidemic and the residual impact that this will have on our country.  Day to day, there is a lot that goes on with government that concerns me; this issue scares the hell out of me!

1 comment:

  1. What steps have we (the hospital here in Cumberland) taken locally. Is there any literature you can share from the CDC with the local public? As the virus appears to be able to double in 3-5 weeks time, and as it appears there have already been a large amount of citizens exposed in Texas for sure as well as other concerns for patients in other states, should we consider taking safeguards such as less travel and less contact with the general population? Lastly, I have a friend who is retired from The U of Texas and he ran the medical research department there before retirement...my discussion with him (a few days before the outbreak) was concerning the possible weaponization of this virus by genetic mutation performed within the lab by anti-American factions and how easily this could become a large threat, as we paid close attention to its spread in Africa...point being, is the current strain exacting in genetic nature as what we have come to know for certain or has this indeed mutated (either by man or nature) and therefore become an even more lethal threat. We, as a nation, do not fit the classic mold from which Ebola spreads concerning warmer climates, poor sewage and waste disposal, etc., and your concern outlined herein is the exact and real concern I was also curious about. I am looking, as you are sir, for solid answers over speculation, and I hope we are able to stop what may quickly become am epidemic that spirals out of control rapidly. It is obviously a shame to even have to consider any of these concerns / factors, but this is a card in our hand today we certainly must consider, and I appreciate your answers looking for solid fact over panic spreading speculation that may possibly happen if things take a turn for the worst. As we well know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but of course cost to businesses and shortages of supplies may quickly become an issue, so considering that, what would be plan B? Can this waste be incinerated safely and the vessels that transported the waste be sterilized for re-use? Thanks for entertaining these thoughts as a better educated public is always a better prepared one.