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Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo Works with Health Department on Ebola Designation

Updated: 10/31/2014

Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo officials announced that they will partner with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and serve as a designated Ebola-care facility for pediatric and maternal patients in Western New York.

Hospital officials stressed that Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo is currently well-prepared to handle patients presenting with a suspected Ebola case.

In addition, extensive measures have been taken at the Emergency Room, entry points, and at clinical offices to insure that patients who may meet criteria for being exposed to the disease are quickly identified and isolated.

“As the community’s children’s hospital, and the leader of pediatric health care in Western New York, we have offered our services to the NYSDOH to serve as a designated Ebola-prepared center for pediatrics and maternal patients,” said Steven Turkovich, MD, chief medical officer for Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. “This was a clear and appropriate decision as we are best situated in Western New York to care for pediatric and maternal patients.”  

Dr. Turkovich added, “This offer of assistance to the State does not change our strategy that we have shared with staff over the past few days. Our physicians, emergency management team, administration, and infection preventionists have been working hard to ensure that we are prepared for any cases that may present to any Kaleida Health facility. This includes drills, ordering supplies, personal protective equipment trainings, town hall meetings, reviews of policies and procedures and more. In addition to all of this, we also have a designated isolation area that will ensure protection from any contact with our current and new patients, families and staff.”

The following represents the hospitals efforts made in preparation:

  • Several unannounced and successful drills in the Emergency Department (ED) were conducted based on criteria from the NYSDOH and the Healthcare Association of New York State; these drills will be expanding to include other potential patient walk-in areas (admissions, registration, etc.).
  • Signage and entry/registration points on travel history within three weeks to West Africa; we have these posted at strategic locations in eight languages.
  • ED staff and initial point of contact staff (admissions, registration, security, etc.) educated on initial triage and inclusive of travel history/symptoms.
  • Competency with direct observation for application and removal of personal protective equipment have been expanded to targeted patient-care areas; Over 100 clinicians have been through the extensive donning/doffing personal protective equipment (PPE) process thus far.
  • Purchased high-level personal protective equipment to be used consistent with the most current recommendations.
  • Education and training for all clinical staff that may be in direct contact with potential patients.
  • Frequent communications with NYSDOH, Greater New York Hospital Association, the Hospital Association of New York State, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure the most current information is part of the hospital’s plan.
  • Partnering with NYSDOH as further guidelines and safety measures are developed.
  • Isolation rooms have been identified and properly equipped to provide the appropriate level of care. Locations have been selected to ensure the least amount of patients/staff are impacted. i.e. - they are secluded and separate from the main body of the ED.
  • Robust security plan has been developed to ensure safe, controlled movement of the affected patient throughout the building. In some cases, the hospital is going above “accepted best practice guidelines” to ensure the safety of staff and other patients/visitors. Advanced PPE being a major area.
  • Phone screening triage is occurring prior to outpatient appointments being made.
  • Hot lab planning is being investigated as a resource to solely provide testing for the affected patient, hence, not potentially disrupting/contaminating house lab and care "hospital wide."
  • Robust planning/communication with EMS providers has occurred to ensure a smooth "hand off" of the patient.

Dr. Turkovich concluded, “Solid community, staff and patient safety protocols are already in place, and we look forward to continuing to serve and care for our community. This is what we do every day, so it is only natural that we continue to support our community with the very best care.”