Massachusetts Hospitals, Clinics, and Emergency Responders Confront Ebola Threat

Although there has been no confirmed case of Ebola in Massachusetts, health care officials and front-line workers are developing protocols for screening those at highest risk for the disease and for protecting emergency responders and members of the public from contracting the lethal virus. After two nurses in Dallas tested positive for Ebola after helping to care for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who died of the disease, federal health officials decided to tighten the guidelines for American hospitals with Ebola patients, particularly with regard to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Personal Protective Equipment Guidelines

PPE suits will be standardized to include a specific type of suit to ensure consistency in both training and use, possibly using only full-body suits.  This is consistent with current CDC recommendations. A model of hood will be used that protects the health care worker’s neck so the neck will not be exposed. Removing PPE now includes an enhanced and detailed step-by-step disinfection of hands process with specific sequencing for removal of each piece of equipment and hand washing.

Braintree Clinic

There have been alarms in the Boston area. Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, an urgent care center in Braintree, was briefly shut down after a patient who had traveled to the West African nation of Liberia arrived at the clinic seeking treatment for headaches and muscle aches. The unidentified patient was transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center by Brewster Ambulance. Company president Mark Brewster said the ambulance team followed Ebola protocols developed by the company in cooperation with Braintree police, fire, and EMS personnel. Although the patient was cleared as not being infected with Ebola, the Boston Public Health Commission confirmed that it would continue to monitor all reports of suspected cases of Ebola.

Logan Airport

A United Arab Emirates flight from Dubai at Logan Airport was met by emergency personnel after some passengers on the plane were showing flu-like symptoms, but the passengers were evaluated and found not to have Ebola. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fever, muscle pain, weakness, vomiting, stomach ache, bleeding, severe headache, and diarrhea all may be indicators of infection with the Ebola virus.

Massachusetts Health Worker Infected in Africa

Some Massachusetts residents infected in Africa have been treated and then have returned to their home state. Dr. Rick Sacra of Holden, Massachusetts, contracted Ebola while working on a medical mission in Liberia. He had been delivering babies at a general hospital in Monrovia but contracted Ebola despite not being involved in treating Ebola patients. After aggressive supportive care at a hospital in Nebraska, he tested negative for Ebola and was released and returned to Massachusetts. He later became ill with a cough and was admitted to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, where he was successfully treated for an upper respiratory infection and kept in isolation until his test results came back negative for the Ebola virus. He was then released from the hospital.

Ebola Impact

The impact of the deadly Ebola virus has been felt among health care workers in Massachusetts, but Governor Deval Patrick reassures residents that there have been no confirmed cases originating in the Commonwealth. Although the risk from Ebola is low, officials and health care workers remain on alert at Massachusetts hospitals, clinics, and Logan Airport.

If you have become ill or been injured at work, for more information about the workers’ compensation process, contact a Boston workers’ compensation attorney from Pulgini & Norton to schedule a free consultation to find out more about what our lawyers can accomplish for you. Contact us with a brief description of your situation or reach us by phone at our Downtown Boston, Hyde Park, or Braintree, Massachusetts office locations.

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