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Regional Healthcare Officials Refine Ebola Response Plans

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Regional healthcare and community officials are tightening up their emergency response plans in the unlikely event that someone comes down with Ebola.

The Region 1 Healthcare Preparedness Coalition, consisting of Jackson Purchase counties, met today to run through an Ebola scenario, discussing everything from intake procedure to managing community panic.

Emergency Preparedness coordinator for the Purchase District Health Department Cindy Mangrum said even though the likelihood of seeing a local Ebola case is almost zero, it is important communities make plans for an emergency.

“We want to be prepared. We don’t want anything to slip up,” Mangrum said.

In the case of a potential Ebola infection, local hospitals would isolate the patient until tests determine if they have the virus. If the patient tests positive, the hospital would then communicate with the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the local health department, and the Centers for Disease Control to determine whether the patient would remain at the hospital or be transported to another facility for treatment. Mangrum said information about the case would be communicated to hospitals and health departments across the state to make sure all have accurate information.

Masengale says the only way for someone to catch the virus is to come into contact with bodily fluids from an infected person exhibiting symptoms at that time. She said if someone from an affected West African nation were to enter the United States, the federal government would notify the state the person plans to visit, the state would then notify local authorities, who would monitor the situation.

But, Masengale said, people should be more worried about the flu than Ebola. 

“It really is, flu season. Get your flu shots and be prepared that way. But Ebola is not the thing in Western Kentucky we have to be worrying about right now,” Masengale said. 

The Healthcare Preparedness Coalition does intensive planning for any possible disaster or epidemic, Mangram says, like the swine flu or a New Madrid earthquake.  

A proud native of Murray, Kentucky, Allison grew up roaming the forests of western Kentucky and visiting national parks across the country. She graduated in 2014 from Murray State University where she studied Environmental Sustainability, Television Production, and Spanish. She loves meeting new people, questioning everything, and dancing through the sun and the rain. She hopes to make a positive impact in this world several endeavors at a time.
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