SD Hospitals Take Precautions to Protect Staff From Ebola

San Diego County hospitals are rolling out new and improved training procedures for health care workers who may come in contact with an infected Ebola patient.

This comes after Dallas nurse Nina Pham became infected after treating the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are continuously updating their guidelines on how to care for an infected patient. Hospitals in San Diego say they’re paying attention to make sure their staff is protected, too.

“Since the transmission of Ebola to the health care worker in Dallas, we've taken a look again at our protocol and decided to retrain our organization,” said Jim LaBelle, Chief Medical Officer for Scripps Health.

LaBelle says Scripps is stepping up its training for staff who may come in contact with an Ebola patient. This means upgrading their protective suits and using a buddy system to have an extra set of eyes when putting it on and taking it off, a process outlined step-by-step by the CDC.

“What that means is that every person that is going to be taking care of a patient with Ebola has a safety buddy with them observing for any risky behavior,” LaBelle said.

“We fulfill all the CDC criteria, actually moving above what they recommended,” he said. “I think given the conversations we've had over the couple of days, it’s likely to be uniformly adopted by most hospitals.”

That includes Sharp Memorial Hospital, which is now screening patients, asking about their travel history and if they’ve had contact with anyone who was recently in West Africa. Warning signs and masks will also be available in the main entrances of the hospital.

Another facility conducting Ebola drills is Palomar Health, which carried out drills at all its campuses last week and plans a decontamination drill at Palomar Medical Center this week, according to Marketing Manager Bobette Brown.

"All of our clinical staff are trained on infection control procedures and have necessary equipment. We are providing on-going training and education on the latest CDC guidelines," said Brown in a statement.

The health system is also prepared to screen the travel history of possible infectious disease patients.

The UCSD Medical Center says it too is making preparations but was not ready to speak with NBC 7 on camera.

On Tuesday, National Nurses United, the largest registered nurses’ union in the country, said that nurses in the U.S. are not protected or prepared to handle Ebola.

There have been no reported cases of Ebola in San Diego County.

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