“Stay aware of the situation:” Milwaukee-area hospital, jail officials following Ebola protocol

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Another patient was diagnosed with Ebola over the weekend -- a 26-year-old Dallas nurse who cared for an Ebola patient who eventually died. Multiple media outlets are identifying the nurse as Nina Pham. She treated Thomas Eric Duncan, who was in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Pham wore a mask, gown, shield and gloves and it's still unclear what might have gone wrong. Pham has received a blood transfusion from another American Ebola survivor, and is in stable condition. Meanwhile, the CDC is implementing procedures for treating Ebola patients and so are hospitals and jails in the Milwaukee area.

Officials at Columbia St. Mary's in Milwaukee say this latest Ebola case highlights the importance of good training at hospitals. There hasn't been a confirmed case in Wisconsin, and officials say there is no need for panic.

"Stay aware of the situation, but don`t worry too much," Alice Brewer, director of infection prevention at Columbia St. Mary's Hospital said.

Officials at Columbia St. Mary's say they're complying with a comprehensive checklist from the Centers for Disease Control on the rare chance a patient comes in with Ebola.

"We have policies in place already for isolation of patients that are suspected of having an infectious disease," Brewer said.

Should a patient show possible Ebola symptoms, and if they've traveled to specific West African countries recently, Brewer says that patient would be isolated in a private room, and staff would use protective equipment.

"Face mask, goggles, gloves and an impermeable gown," Brewer said.

Brewer says she would be immediately notified, as the hospital's director of infection prevention.

"We also then contact the state and local health departments and the CDC and then we take our direction from them in terms of testing," Brewer said.

After an immigration detainee from Liberia spent a night in the Kenosha County Jail, the Milwaukee County Jail put its own protocol into place that involves screening for Ebola.

"It`s a questionnaire that the we do and also taking their temperatures," Karen Davies, the regional vice president of Armor Correctional Health Services said.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office consulted with Davies in implementing the questionnaire which asks whether the inmate has symptoms or has traveled outside the United States.

"We do an in-depth screening when inmates come into our facilities, so this is just an added step," Davies said.

Columbia St. Mary's says their procedures are the same for any infectious disease outbreak, so their response is similar to what was done for SARS and MRSA.

Officials are constantly checking the CDC's website for any additional instructions that may arise.

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