FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: October 24, 2014
Update from the Mendocino County Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA)
Ebola Preparedness Response Team
The HHSA Ebola Preparedness Response Team (EPRT) meets on a weekly basis and is comprised of representatives from HHSA Leadership, Public Health Nursing, Communicable Disease and Hospital and Clinic Preparedness Staff; Coastal Valley Emergency Medical Services; the Public Health Officers; representatives for the Adventist Health System and local clinics.
The team’s focus is preparedness. The information around the Ebola virus is rapidly evolving day by day. The team members attend many conference calls weekly, sometimes daily that involve information coming from both the State and Federal levels. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Communicable Disease Center (CDC) are both doing an excellent job of keeping everyone apprised of the latest guidelines, procedures and opportunities for preparedness.
On October 23, HHSA Public Health participated in the State-wide Medical Health Exercise Table Top drill. Twenty-three agencies and facilities sent forty-two representatives to the 4-hour drill. All three county hospitals were represented, eight clinics, skilled nursing facilities, Coastal Valleys Emergency Medical Services Agency as well as the Redwood Empire Hazardous Incident Team (REHIT) along with six County programs were represented.
The drill allowed the group to actively assess the capabilities of the entities they represent in a table top scenario that involved a suspected case of Ebola. They focused on coordination and communication of medical surge capabilities, infection control practices and informational sharing among community healthcare and response partners. The day also allowed for participants to work with the County HHSA in the planning and deployment of functional activities to be used in the upcoming State-wide Medical Health Exercise full scale functional event to be held on November 20.
The drills will help in the process of developing and refining the response plan for our county and will reinforce the practices already in place for handling contagious diseases and assuring public safety. The Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency is the local CDPH and CDC partner and monitors the publications from these two agencies to distribute the latest standards out to the medical community.
Coastal Valleys Emergency Medical Services Agency (CVEMSA) is currently coordinating a regional meeting with local stakeholders to educate ambulance companies and first responders on how to respond to suspected Ebola cases. Dr. Mark Luoto is working closely with CVEMSA in developing general response guidelines for this group and expects to have them out in the next few days.
It is important to remember, that there are no current suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola in California. The focus is on preparedness at all levels. At this time the Ebola virus does not pose a health care threat for California.
If you have traveled in Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia in the last 21 days and have a fever greater than 100.4 and additional symptoms such as severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or unexplained hemorrhage please contact your local doctor or local hospital via phone. This will prevent exposure and will give the medical experts the necessary time to properly prepare for your arrival.
The EPRT is working hard to meet the needs of the community. Prevention is key. Preparedness is necessary. Education is paramount. Fear is the worst by-product of the current Ebola situation. It is very important to educate everyone regarding this disease. Knowledge is power and understanding is calming.
If you have questions regarding the Ebola situation in California, the CDPH has established an Ebola hotline at 1-855-421-5921 that is available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday.