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UIHC becomes Iowa's Ebola treatment center

BY CHRIS HIGGINS | DECEMBER 16, 2014 5:00 AM

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As American fears over the Ebola virus have largely died down, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has reaffirmed the institution’s preparedness for an outbreak.

On Monday, the UIHC was designated as Iowa’s only Ebola treatment center. In addition, Mercy Medical Center and Iowa Methodist Medical Center, both in Des Moines, have been named as screening facilities.

There have been zero reported cases of Ebola in Iowa.

One individual in Iowa was quarantined in November after possible exposure.

There have been only four reported cases in the United States and none since October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the four, three were health-care workers and one was a man who had traveled from Liberia to Dallas. The three workers recovered; however, the man passed away.

According to a UIHC press release, health workers will be able to care for an Ebola patient in a secured and isolated location the patient will not leave. Staff will not care for any other patients, and medical equipment will not be used for anyone but the Ebola patient.

“I am very proud of how hard our response team has worked over many months for extremely long hours to prepare for any potential patient who might be infected with the Ebola virus,” said Loreen Herwaldt, the UIHC director of the Program of Hospital Epidemiology said in the release. “They have done a tremendous job of getting us ready to meet this challenge.”

In October, UIHC officials announced they had set aside an area in the intensive-care unit to house two patients and had trained 20 nurses, up to 30 doctors, 20 housekeepers, and more to deal with the disease. That month, mass emails were sent out to students, faculty, and staff reaffirming the UI’s preparedness.

The UIHC has also created specialized headgear to allow wearers to avoid contamination.

The CDC reports that there have been roughly 18,500 cases of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which have been hit the hardest by the disease. Nearly 7,000 have died in those countries as a result.

The disease remains a significant health crisis in West Africa following a widespread outbreak earlier this year.


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