In 2014, the largest outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in history took place in West Africa. As those affected countries worked to contain the illness, a small number of cases of Ebola were diagnosed in the United States for the first time in history.
Although the risk of an outbreak in this country was extremely low, hospitals, clinics and health care organizations across the country — including MultiCare — worked to prepare in case they were called upon to treat a patient with Ebola.
Although steps to contain the outbreak in West Africa have had success, as of June 17, a small number of new cases of Ebola are still being reported in Guinea and Sierra Leone. According to the World Health Organization's June 17 Ebola Situation Report, there were 24 confirmed cases of Ebola reported in the week of June 8, compared with 27 cases the previous week.
MultiCare continues to screen patients for travel history to identify possible cases. The screening will remain in place until the CDC and local health officials recommend otherwise.
MultiCare’s role in the Ebola preparation effort has changed. We are now considered a “Frontline Healthcare Facility.” That means we are prepared to Identify and isolate patients with possible Ebola following established protocols and PPE requirements. These patients will only be at our facilities for a short time until they are transferred an Assessment or Treatment facility. This is a change from last year, when we were preparing to be an Assessment facility. We are no longer preparing to take care of Ebola patients for longer than 24 hours. Currently, Harborview and Seattle Children’s have the necessary infrastructure to fill that role.
Patients who walk in to any of our facilities suspected of having Ebola will be isolated appropriately until transport arrangements can be made to an Assessment or Treatment facility as directed by Public Health. They will not be transferred to Tacoma General as originally planned.
For more information on the levels of Ebola care, please see the CDC’s guidelines.