Carson City officials say region is prepared for ebola

Officials from Carson Tahoe Health System, Carson City and Douglas County say no Ebola outbreak is anticipated here, but the area health care system is prepared in any event.

That was the gist of remarks from Dr. Susan Pintar, health officer for both Carson City and Douglas County, Carson City Fire Chief Stacey Giomi, local emergency manager, Nicki Aaker, head of Carson City Health and Human Services, and Doris Dimmitt, Carson Tahoe Hospital epidemiologist.

“I’m a resident here,” Giomi said, “and I’m not alarmed.”

He and the others, however, said given the national and international news on the potentially deadly communicable disease, talks and actions about preparedness are under way. In addition, Gov. Brian Sandoval at the state level Friday directed action to take readiness precautions via a task force he asked be formed by Dr. Tracey Green, chief medical officer with Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services.

“Preparedness is the best defense,” Sandoval said, “so I asked that this task force be created as a precautionary measure to stay ahead of any potential exposure to the Ebola virus and ensure the safety of all Nevadans.”

Preparedness was a priority for Carson Tahoe Health.

“The Ebola crisis has given us the opportunity to reevaluate and step up our preparedness,” said Dimmitt in a statement provided by the hospital.

Dr. Pintar sounded a similar theme.

“We do not anticipate an outbreak of Ebola to occur here; however, if a suspected case of Ebola should occur, the health care system is prepared and equipped to swiftly respond,” she said in a written statement issued by Douglas County. On Thursday, as Carson City’s health officer and the chairperson of the city’s Board of Health, she didn’t mention Ebola in her report to the board and city government.

The topic didn’t come up during that health board session and when she was asked about it afterward, she said there was “definitely an active dialogue” on what to do. But she said she’s more concerned about the Enterovirus problem faced in the nation by infants, children and teens. At the same time, she said the region’s coordinated response to any possible Ebola threat isn’t off the radar screen by any means.

“I think that we are as prepared as we can be,” she told the Nevada Appeal. In her Douglas County statement, she added: “Public Health and its heath care partners have been preparing for a possible case of Ebola.”

The pediatrician and health officer said it’s important to note the risk of spreading Ebola is low in the locale. She said catching it is only possible by direct contact with an infected person’s body fluids.

“We’re prepared,” said Giomi, adding his emergency oversight office is working with city government’s Health and Human Services Department, under Aaker, to make sure of that. Aaker for her part said a “tabletop” event was being held Friday to discuss and work on various activities that reinforce and heighten such readiness.

“We’re trying to get one unified message within the state,” she added.

At the hospital, Dimmitt said extensive retraining of staff was under way to reinforce “proper use of personnel protective equipment” and the focus was on early identification of patients who might have Ebola.

“The regional medical center has 17 airborne isolation rooms with negative air pressure, HEPA filters, and anterooms which may be used to safely house and care for Ebola patients” if they are necessary, according to the hospital epidemiologist. She also noted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has said it would send a special Ebola team anywhere to help any hospital that winds up with such a case.


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