Local health professionals address Ebola epidemic - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local health professionals address Ebola epidemic

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The news of a second person contracting Ebola on U.S. soil has the medical community ramping up its preparedness. Local physicians say while the odds of someone having Ebola in the Tennessee Valley are low, they are still preparing for the possibility.

"If you're dealing with an infection that kills people 50 percent of the time, this is something we don't take lightly," says Dr. Jay Sizemore.

Doctor Jay Sizemore is the Director of Infection Prevention at Erlanger Hospital. He says while the news of a second person contracting Ebola on U.S. soil is troubling, he says there is no need to panic.    

"As a healthcare worker myself, there needs to be appropriate concern. But there certainly doesn't need to be panic," he says.

Sizemore says his staff is in constant contact with the state health department and the CDC. Erlanger has an Ebola team in place, practicing isolation drills and going over response protocol if an Ebola patient were to come to the emergency room.

In the case of Dallas patient Eric Duncan, who died, Sizemore says, "It's somewhat reassuring that nobody in the gentleman's family in Texas has actually gotten sick. It's been the two healthcare workers."

He also says while some are questioning how Ebola is transmitted, the focus should remain on how to properly quarantine a patient.  

"We would be seeing a much larger epidemic if this were anything other than body fluids. So I don't think we have to worry about the airborne route at this point," says Sizemore.

"As a nurse, it's what I signed up to do," says Jessica Nicolo.

Nicolo is an ER nurse for another local hospital. She says all nurses have been trained on how to gear up with 'personal protective equipment.'

"You know, your gown, gloves, mask, your booties that come up to your knees."

She says her heart goes out to the health care workers in Texas who contracted the disease and wants the public to keep trust in those trying to contain it.

"Have faith in the people that's going to take care of you. It's our job. We're trained to do this," says Nicolo.

"The over-arching message is that there's a remote chance that we would actually encounter a patient at Erlanger. But if we were to encounter such a patient, we will be prepared," says Sizemore.

Sizemore says it may sound simple, but the number one way to avoid the disease is to avoid contact with someone who has traveled to West Africa. Right now only five major airports in the U.S. are receiving passengers from that part of the world and screenings are in place at those airports. 
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