As has been widely reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States in a person who had traveled to Dallas, Texas from Liberia. Even a single case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States understandably raises concerns, but medical and public health professionals across the country are ready to respond. NACHC is closely monitoring the situation and tracking information alerts from the CDC.
“With the report of the first Ebola virus case in the U.S., our patients are asking for information,” said Don Weaver, MD, Associate Medical Officer for NACHC. “The best resource to stay informed on this and other emerging health threats and public health emergencies is the CDC’s Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) Program. If you are not already on COCA’s partner list, you can sign up by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Listserv Subscribe Request’ in the subject line.”
CDC has also posted interim guidance on evaluating patients for the Ebola virus, including a checklist on evaluating returned travelers to the U.S. They have also created an Ebola readiness self assessment to assist local and state officials in planning a response. If these tools do not address questions you have, CDC experts will answer questions about #Ebola today during a Twitter chat from 4:00 to 5:00 pm ET. Follow @CDCgov on Twitter, and use the hashtag #CDCchat to participate in the chat.
Because of the high profile Ebola now has in the media, health centers might also receive queries from the media. A few message points to consider:
- Community Health Centers have always been on the front lines as a responder to public health threats and have the tools, experience, and networks on the ground to effectively respond and protect their communities.
- Community Health Centers are prepared to identify and triage possible cases of the Ebola virus by following their existing policies and procedures for infectious disease control and proper handling of laboratory samples.
- Community Health Centers traditionally have very effective partnerships with their public health departments and can help coordinate planning, information alerts and outreach with CDC, state and local public health officials, and area hospitals.
- Community Health Centers are effective responders because they know and understand the immediate health needs of the surrounding community and the patient populations they serve.
Please stay tuned to this blog to stay updated on developments.