Thursday, October 9, 2014

I Feel So Much Safer Now . . .

Yesterday I attended the Shelby County Commission Committee Meetings.  One of the highlights was a discussion with the head of the Shelby County Health Dept and representatives from the local hospitals on the subject of Ebola.  You never know what you will find out when you begin to take self-governance serious and go to these meetings.  I felt like I was in an infomercial for the flu shot.  Think I'm jesting?  Here is the report from Mike Mathews of ABC 24.  Note to Mike Mathews and ABC 24, the flu isn't 100% preventable even with the flu shot.  See this study.  It estimates that the flu vaccine is only about 59% effective.  Full disclosure:  My daughter who has a compromised immune system due to her transplant did get a flu shot.  I do not want my child in an emergency room or hospital this season.  While the flu vaccine is not 100% effective, I do want to give my daughter the best chance at not getting the flu.

Now back to Ebola and Shelby County.  Ms. Madlock reiterated that it is not airborne nor spread by casual contact; although the virus was in all bodily fluids of a person including sweat and that the virus can live on surfaces for 2 hours.  I wish I could have asked her for clarification on that info.  According to the CDC ~hat/tip MidSouth Sentinel~ the Ebola virus can travel through air, but they made that admission in a very sneaky and hard to find manner. The following statement is under Low Risk Exposures:
Close contact is defined as
a)  being within approximately 3 feet (1 meter) of an EVD patient or within the patient’s room or care area for a prolonged period of time (e.g., health care personnel, household members) while not wearing recommended personal protective equipment (i.e., standard, droplet, and contact precautions; see Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations)
b)  having direct brief contact (e.g., shaking hands) with an EVD patient while not wearing recommended personal protective equipment.
The footnote explains that For purposes of monitoring and movement restrictions of persons with Ebola virus exposure, low risk is interpreted as some risk.

"The implication of this statement is very, very clear: Ebola DOES in fact travel through the air."  Also, if it can last for a couple of hours on a hard surface, there doesn't seem to have to be direct contact, just touching a hard surface after an infected person does.  We've also been told that unless an Ebola patient is showing signs of the disease, that they are not infectious.  Since the symptoms of Ebola are similar to the flu, how many of us stay home when feeling a bit under the weather?  Just living in reality here.  Why do you think there is such a market for over-the-counter flu medications?

The panel of "experts" was also asked if they were prepared for isolation since we are being told that only a few hospitals in the nation have specially built isolation units with negative airflow.  Again, the answer was not reassuring. Apparently, isolation consists of a private room with a private bathroom. The patient's room would have limited individuals with access to the room who would be “protected”.  She said that that many hospitals do have the special isolation units which they use for case of tuberculosis, but that Ebola wouldn't warrant the use of these units.   Here is the link from the CDC that provides this information.  Not sure why the CDC made such a big deal about these units when bringing the first Ebola patients to the US happened.  My guess, is it's all about optics.  As it happens, my family has experience with isolation.  My dd was put in isolation when she was in ICU at Le Bonheur as couple of years ago.  We had to gown and mask up when we entered her room.
CDC Guidelines for Isolation for Ebola

Someone did text Commissioner Roland about the disposal of a dead body. He passed along the question. Ms. Madlock said that they were going to send out information on the CDC guidelines to all the mortuaries and funeral homes. Commissioner Justin Ford, whose family is in the funeral home business, asked about autopsy to determine the cause of death with Ebola and was told that there would be no autopsy. The CDC guidelines were to double bag the body and then either cremate or put body in a hermetically sealed coffin.  Mr. Ford then asked about whether there could be a service and was told that he would receive the guidelines from the CDC.  My impression was that Ms. Madlock was irritated at this line of questioning.  I don't think she was ready for such a specific question.

Bottom line:  I was not reassured.  Many contradictions and unanswered questions.  Ms. Madlock said that the SC Health Dept was sending out guidelines to all the licensed doctors, healthcare facilities, school nurses etc.  I'm sure they'll be as excited to get and read them as Ms. Madlock was in coming and answering questions from the Shelby County Commissioners.  While I am not panicking ~and I am not advocating panicking~ I am not reassured about how ready Shelby County is for Ebola.  I am praying that there isn't an outbreak and that Ms. Madlock is correct.  In the meantime, I am taking my own precautions for my family.  We cannot depend upon the government to do it.

Update:  I received these from a friend.  Apparently this is what the Shelby County Health Dept. sent out to all of our healthcare facilities etc.

With the nurse who cared for Duncan contracting the disease, it appears that Ebola might be a bigger deal than Ms. Madlock and her staff are letting on.  

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