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Op-ed: National response plan for Ebola

Isolation unit nursing director Carolyn Hill, medical director Bruce Ribner and pathologist Charles Hill (far right) confer just outside the sliding glass doors to Emory University Hospital’s special isolation unit.

As the first U.S. hospital to successfully treat patients with Ebola virus disease in the United States, Emory University Hospital has been a leader in developing and implementing protocols for infection control and patient care.

In an op-ed in the Washington Post on Oct. 20, titled “Beating Ebola through a national plan,” Emory Healthcare President and CEO John Fox responded to public discussion about national efforts to control the spread of Ebola in the United States.

Fox noted that in an effort to share its unique knowledge and experience, Emory Healthcare has launched a new website listing protocols that can serve as a resource for health care organizations regarding best practices in Ebola infection control and care.

“Sharing information in this way is critical, but it will not be enough,” he states. The federal government should create a national medical infrastructure. In addition to national Ebola support centers, such as the one at Emory, every major metropolitan area should prepare its two or three largest health-care systems to care for Ebola-infected patients; all U.S. hospitals should undergo a prescribed level of preparedness; and transportation, supply distribution, and specimen and waste handling should be coordinated through regional and national standards and mechanisms.

“We must care for those in need,” Fox closes, “but a few hospitals cannot combat this public health threat alone. We need government leadership to provide the resources necessary to implement a coordinated, scalable national plan. It can be done.”

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