Riverside Tappahannock Hospital conducted training recently to prepare for any potential Ebola threats in the community.

"Just as we rehearse during our mass casualty drills, practicing for unexpected or unusual situations, we regularly evaluate and update protocols as community health situations or threats arise," said John Peterman, Vice President and Administrator for Riverside Tappahannock. "We have been paying attention to what has been happening in the rest of the country and we want our neighbors, patients and friends to know that we remain vigilant in our preparations for any disaster or incident."

Hospitals across the nation began taking action to be prepared for the potential since the first case of the disease was diagnosed in Dallas, Texas in late September. Riverside Tappahannock Hospital is no different.

"We have to protect our community, our patients and our employees," said Donna RTH employees in PPE prep classTignor, RN, an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Nurse Manager and Infection Control Practitioner with Riverside Tappahannock Hospital. "Our goal is to identify the disease and isolate early to keep everyone safe."

It's a goal across the state.

Just last week, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that he had created a contingency fund of up to $2 million to help address specific public health and safety risks associated with the exposure to and threat of Ebola.

"There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in Virginia, but my administration continues to prepare so that we can respond quickly to this public health threat if it reaches our state," said Governor McAuliffe in a statement. "This $2 million contingency fund will help state and local agencies cover costs in the event of a confirmed case, and allow responders to focus more on protecting Virginia families than on covering costs in the event of an emergency."

In October, Riverside Tappahannock began putting systems in place should a patient present for treatment with Ebola symptoms.

"We have designated a room for patients as part of our plan to identify and isolate those that we suspect based on history and symptoms," said Ruth Adams, RN, Emergency Department Nurse Manager. "Our staff received specialized training to complement their existing knowledge and skills in dealing with infectious disease. We'll continue to monitor the health risks and provide ongoing training as needed."

"Riverside hospitals across the region, including in Gloucester, Newport News, Williamsburg and the Eastern Shore, are working extensively to assess and treat patients suspected of having Ebola," said Dr. Barry Gross, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President for Riverside Health System. 

"We are purchasing an isopod unit and a portable antechamber for every acute-care facility," Gross said. "Isopods allow for safe transport of infected patients, within the facility or externally if they are transferred."

Riverside is working closely with its community partners, including the Virginia Department of Health, local EMS agencies and other health care providers, to ensure a consistent and coordinated response.

"Know that those responsible for protecting us, our patients and our team members are completely up to date on the diagnosis and the provision of care around all infectious diseases, because it is what they do," Gross said. "And they do it very well."

Published: November 14, 2014