Community Health Centers Join Ebola Preparations

Nov 14, 2014

Hospitals have gotten most of the attention when it comes to Ebola preparedness. But at a recent hearing for state lawmakers, questions were raised about the readiness of community-based health care providers to deal with the threat. 

The Rhode Island health department has been conducting exercises with hospitals to determine how prepared they are to handle a potential Ebola case. Soon, community health centers will be tested as well, said Rhode Island Health Center Association CEO Jane Hayward. Hayward said centers have procedures in place to screen and refer patients if Ebola is suspected. But preparation is ongoing.

“All of our health centers are I think as well-prepared as you can be in the ambulatory care setting, with protective gear, and have done drills and training with their staff around how to both screen and to react to the potential.”

Hayward said patients who walk in or call for an appointment are being asked about their travel history and symptoms. If they have traveled to a part of the world affected by Ebola, and have a fever, Hayward said they’ll be referred to a hospital that’s equipped to treat them.

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