A new survey from the organization Direct Relief shows that one-third of America’s safety-net facilities are reporting a limited supply of waterproof shoe covers, gowns, face shields, single-use respirators and other personal protective equipment (PPE) that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends for treating Ebola patients.
Health center staff have expressed concern regarding equitable access to PPE and have sought clarification on the PPE standards for ambulatory care for suspected Ebola cases, according to Ron Yee, MD, Chief Medical Officer at NACHC. “Health centers are critical partners in the containment of communicable disease outbreaks,” said Yee. “There is a lot of fear in the communities regarding the Ebola virus and we need to assure our patients that we will provide safe care while also protecting our health center staff.”
The survey comes on the heels of a Teleforum call NACHC hosted to address specific concerns about Ebola and other communicable diseases. Health center staff from all over the U.S. participated in the call. Speakers included clinical and emergency preparedness staff from the Family Health Center of Worcester (where Rick Sacra, MD, an Ebola survivor, is a physician) and the Massachusetts league of Community Health Centers. A central point of discussion was best practices when it comes to internal and external protocols for dealing with suspected cases of Ebola, providing culturally appropriate care, as well as response coordination among federal partners. A recording of that call can be accessed by visiting this link.
Some health centers are also drawing media notice for their expert handling and preparation in dealing with suspected Ebola cases around the country, such as People’s Health Center in Lincoln, NE.
Meanwhile, to stay updated on this important topic please visit the NACHC clinical page on Ebola for the latest information and resources.