California Counties Prepare for Ebola

In spite of some false alarms, the deadly Ebola virus has yet to hit the Golden State. But if and when it does, California’s counties want you to know they’re prepared.

Officials from numerous counties around the state have recently detailed plans for preventing a potential Ebola outbreak. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors was apprised of some of those details Tuesday when they heard from county health officials on the matter. One of those officials is Dr. Mitchell Katz, who runs Los Angeles County’s hospital system. At the meeting Tuesday, he said they are working to ensure that any suspected Ebola patients are identified and reported to health authorities immediately.

“If there is a case of Ebola, we will be able to protect that patient, prevent the spread and protect our healthcare workers,” Katz told the board.

San Luis Obispo County Health Officer Penny Bornstein says her county is in constant contact with all local hospitals and that each one has a proper procedure in place to deal with any infected patients. Neighboring Santa Barbara County is currently developing a comprehensive plan of its own.

Stanislaus County health officials say they too have been receiving critical information, such as possible Ebola patient checklists, from the CDC. They are passing the information on to area hospitals and clinics, which are undergoing their own prevention and containment efforts. American Medical Response, which provides ambulance services to the county, has already instructed its personnel to screen patients for Ebola symptoms. Further preparation will be discussed during a joint meeting of the county’s contagious disease task force and emergency preparedness council next week.

Ebola drills, meanwhile, are currently being conducted at numerous hospitals in Northern California. But some Bay Area nurses have complained about a lack of proper training. They are not alone. According to a recent statewide survey, eighty percent of nurses believe their hospitals are not properly prepared to deal with an Ebola outbreak.

Senators Barbara Boxer ad Diane Feinstein reiterated the importance of preparedness on the part of local hospitals in a joint letter last week. Read the letter here.