American Ebola patients will be transported to Atlanta's Emory University Hospital on Saturday, says U.S. State Department. Emory will work closely with local CDC to help patients.
According to Yahoo News, a special ward in Emory University Hospital has been set up for the American patients since the location is one in four units equipped in the United States for a major outbreak and treatment. And medical care to Atlanta makes sense as the Center for Disease Control has a strong base in the city, along with Emory's own large medical network.
Emory says it's bringing the Ebola patients to Atlanta because they deserve to have "highest level of treatment."— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) August 1, 2014
In an email correspondence on Thursday, July 31, Emory University Hospital told Yahoo "that there are plans to transfer a patient with Ebola virus infection to its special facility containment unit within the next several days. We do not know at this time when the patient will arrive.”
However, CNN reported that the two patients, not one, are actually medical missionaries Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol arriving from Monrovia, Liberia. The information is at odds with what Yahoo knows, since the CDC refused to divulge or corroborate patient information due to privacy laws.
With high mortality rates of 60-90%, the hospital stated, "For this specially trained staff, these procedures are practiced on a regular basis throughout the year so we are fully prepared for this type of situation."
CBS This Morning news notes the two patients have received an immunity boost from patients who survived the deadly disease and the transportation is meant to aid in their hopeful recovery. Writebol received a special serum while Brantley received the boost from a 14-year-old male patient.
In the news piece, Dr. William Schaffner cautions that the success rate of the two American patients is unknown since the methods "haven't been done very frequently before, if at all."
NBC Atlanta-affiliate WXIA, 11Alive, confirms that the patients will arrive at Dobbins Air Force Reserve Base in Marietta, the same place Air Force One docks, and be taken to Emory University Hospital.
While the CDC believes bringing an infected patient into the U.S. may be small, doctors throughout the country have received a list of symptoms to be on the lookout for among patients. One major area of focus for patient care involves those exhibiting fever, headache, vomiting and diarrhea.
All medical signs are common symptoms of Ebola and doctors should ask about foreign travel. Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC director, said the only time patients are contagious when showing symptoms and most hospitals have some form of isolation care available.
Emory University's Dr. Bruce Ribner backed Frieden's assertions at Friday's press conference. "You need to appreciate Ebola is NOT spread by some magic mechanism." He does acknowledge that "the unit will be fitted with plate glass windows" and in a very isolated, non-receiving area of the hospital.
Located on the ground floor in the General Clinical Research Center ward, the "3-bed isolation unit features the highest standards in negative pressure air handling safeguards," including a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system that doesn't recirculate back into the facility.
"All healthcare providers must wear protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, gloves and eye protection." Emory notes on their website the precautionary steps the hospital will take to ensure safety. "Proper cleaning and disposal of instruments, such as needles and syringes, is essential. These protocols and practices are routinely followed when treating patients with communicable disease."
The same unit has been used to deal with SARS in the past, so the precautions and drills have served well before.
While General Clinical Research Center was built for patient isolation purposes, Ribner admitted, "We hoped we'd never have to use the space to treat a serious communicable disease." However, not out of fear of exposure, but out of non-need. The medical community's many advancements on curing illnesses does not apply to Ebola since the disease does not have a known cure.
But the hospital's also realistic on the unit’s need and future. "We realize that with the numerous research laboratories and epidemiology field personnel the CDC has in Atlanta, we'll probably use this unit several times a year."
And State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf asserts the department is working with the CDC, "the lead for the U.S. government in the Ebola situation," to "facilitate access to aviation services for medical evacuations for U.S. citizens directly affected."
Harf assures the citizens "every precaution will be taken to move the patients safely and securely to provide critical care en route and to maintain strict isolation." Good news for loved ones of patients facing such a dangerous disease.
With over 700 deaths this year, the Ebola outbreak is Africa's worst in nearly 40 years.
Harf notes the United States offers the very best to help stop the outbreak from spreading.
"The State Department office of medical services has deployed its chief of infectious disease to West Africa in order to provide on the ground consultation and guidance to health unit staff regarding protective measures and case recognition."
Earlier this week, Sheik Umar Khan, Sierra Leon'e top Ebola virologist, died from contracting the disease, but the national government and medical community are hoping to quiet the fear.
And Emory explains how the disease is transmitted and spread in an effort to ease the public’s mind. "The virus is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected fluids."
In short, if you are not exposed to such extreme situations, you are less likely to contract Ebola.