(UPDATED) Emergency protocols for treating a potential Ebola patient were activated Friday afternoon at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where a man was placed in isolation after arriving with symptoms of the deadly disease.
The patient, who recently traveled to West Africa, was admitted for observation and treatment. Infectious disease specialists said he did not meet the CDC criteria for Ebola testing, and he was "highly unlikely" to have Ebola, hospital officials said.
The Florida Department of Health, which coordinates testing for the CDC, confirmed the patient did not require Ebola testing. The patient was feeling better Saturday and was removed from isolation.
(ORIGINAL STORY) After the first case of Ebola in the U.S. was confirmed Sept. 30, exposing mistakes by healthcare workers, hospitals and health officials nationwide are moving to reassure the public that safety protocols are firmly in place. In the Suncoast, some hospitals were taking measures weeks ago.
“We have been planning for the possibility of an Ebola case for a couple of months now,” Kim Savage, spokeswoman for Sarasota Memorial Hospital, said Friday.
The state Department of Health said there is no immediate threat or reason for increased concern in Florida. In an email, Savage said Sarasota Memorial was being proactive.
“We have a hospital task force led by the hospital’s epidemiologist and chief nursing officer and made up of a cross section of hospital departments – more than 50 clinical and nonclinical staff who continue to monitor the situation.”
The hospital is equipped with “a plentiful supply of protective gear to handle the most serious of infectious diseases,” Savage said.
The Dallas hospital treating the first patient diagnosed in the U.S. with Ebola has acknowledged a technical flaw in its system. The error led to a decision to send the patient home despite evidence that appeared to indicate an obvious potential case of Ebola, including his travel history in West Africa.
"We have updated our screening and emergency triage process to document patients' travel history and incorporate additional Ebola screening questions," Savage said.
In addition to identifying special rooms, quarantine units and extra security measures, Savage said educating health workers is a priority.
“The CDC has provided guidance to us and all hospitals on how to screen, isolate and treat [possible Ebola] patients,” Savage said. “We have educated front-line staff on the risks, signs and symptons of Ebola, and we continue to expand training to staff throughout the hospital and our outpatient sites.”