California public health officials say there are no confirmed or suspected Ebola cases in the state yet – but it wouldn’t be surprising for an Ebola case to arise eventually.
It’s not just hospitals that need to prepare for Ebola – though the state is asking them to develop and test infection control plans. It’s also all health care workers, caregivers and first responders.
“It requires many, many people in the front lines knowing what to do,” says state Epidemiologist Gil Chavez, “in terms of asking for potential Ebola exposures, asking for travel, and more importantly, that they know what they need to do if the answer to any of those questions is yes, you may have a potential Ebola patient.”
“We’ve encouraged every hospital to develop a plan and to test their plan, and to make sure that their health care workers are comfortable with the things that they need to do, in terms of using personal protective equipment; where do patients need to go; how do patients need to move – all of those things,” says Dr. James Watt with the California Department of Public Health.
Chavez says California already has strong worker protection regulations at health care facilities that should help avoid the problems with Ebola that have come up elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the state is asking the federal government to put Ebola screening protections in place at some of California's largest international airports.