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Hospital and Clinics Preparing for Ebola

October 21, 2014

McCook, Nebraska--Although it is extremely unlikely the region would ever encounter a patient who is infected with Ebola, Community Hospital and McCook Clinic are readying themselves with proper training, equipment and protocols to remain safe while caring for patients.

According to Sharon Conroy, RN, Community Hospital certified infection control nurse, the hospital is in continual preparation regarding the occurrence of Ebola as well as other infectious illnesses. She recently provided hospital and clinic staff with a checklist and information concerning patients being evaluated for Ebola based on Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Patients who visit Community Hospital’s emergency department or McCook Clinic with a fever of 100.4 or higher, will be asked if they have traveled outside the United States in the last 21 days or had close contact with someone who has.

An Ebola kit of personal protection equipment (PPE) has been placed in the emergency department. Beginning last week, Community Hospital has participated in conference calls from the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services on ways to prepare for Ebola. Employees will review and practice putting on and taking off PPE, including special respirator masks. Ongoing communication is planned to update employees as new information is released.

“We are continually assessing our approaches, and are ready to adapt to new CDC protocols as they become available,” Conroy said.

“We want to reassure the public that, for most people, the risk is extremely low they will ever contract Ebola, unless they have had direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person,” she said. “As with any infectious illness, our staff at Community Hospital practices universal precautions to protect themselves and to keep any illness from spreading.” She stressed it is important to remember a person infected with the Ebola virus is not contagious until symptoms appear.

What can the public do to protect themselves?

  • Wash your hands
  • Do not touch the body fluids of people who are sick
  • Get a flu shot since the flu has many of the same symptoms as the early symptoms of Ebola (such as fever and body aches)

“Every hospital has plans in place to care for patients with infections, and hospitals across the nation are continuously updating their policies,” said Janelle Kircher, Community Hospital Vice President of Patient Care Services. “Hospitals are an important part of this nation’s readiness infrastructure and we take our responsibility very seriously.”

For the most recent information on Ebola guidelines and protocols, the public can consult the CDC website at This URL is also posted on Community Hospital’s website at and the hospital’s Facebook page, “Community Hospital-McCook.”

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