Bay Area hospitals train on proper protocol for handling Ebola cases

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Center for Disease Control says training on the local level to fight the Ebola virus is paramount, especially after a nurse in Dallas contracted the virus.

Hospitals across the country and throughout the Bay Area are now going over their procedures and equipment to make sure they are prepared.

Medical professionals on the front lines of care in the Bay Area say they need proper training and the infection of a Dallas nurse is exactly what they're concerned about happening in the Bay Area.

Deborah Berger is with the California Nurses Association. She says recent surveys of nurses across the country show they don't feel that hospitals are giving enough hands on training to quickly diagnose an Ebola patient and safely care for them.

"With Ebola, and the fact that there hasn't been enough education and training, we are really concerned that we're going to drop the ball," Berger said.

She said even the CDC's guidelines on interacting with infected patients aren't enough.

Medical personnel should wear gloves, a gown, eye protection and a face mask. In extreme cases, health care workers should use double gloves and disposable shoe and leg covers.

Berger says front line medical personnel should be equipped with more.

"When you look at the equipment that the CDC staff use in the lab, they have a positive pressure respirator, they have completely sealed gowns and outfits that they wear," Berger said.

Doctor Tomas Aragon is the San Francisco public health officer.

He says there is a gap in equipment and protocols to handle this disease in the Bay Area, but that gap will be closed.

"There's no wiggle room," Aragon said. "You don't want to make a mistake and that's what's new with Ebola is that when you practice the infection control procedures there's no room for error."

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said regional care facilities may be needed.

"Some people are making suggestions that there be a few places where people are sent, so that not everybody has to be at the highest performance," Pelosi said.

A few Bay Area medical centers, including San Francisco General Hospital, conducted training drills Monday in response to news that a Dallas nurse was infected.
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