The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may designate Chicago hospitals for treatment of potential patients with the Ebola virus, should any arrive in the city.
Two hospitals in the Chicago area are considered the hospitals designated to handle Ebola patients, should someone with Ebola-like symptoms arrive at O'Hare Airport, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Those hospitals include Presence Resurrection Medical Center and Rush University Medical Center.
Rush has already formed an Ebola task force, comprised of doctors, nurses and support staff that have volunteered to take care of any Ebola patients arriving at the hospital.
“I got into this to help take care of people and I think in this situation, I don’t have children, I’m pretty young,” said Registered Nurse Keene Roadman. “I can take care of people some people might not want to.”
The volunteers are first being trained on how to use the designated protective equipment, most of which exceeds CDC recommendations.
“Waterproof gowns, leggings that are waterproof, a waterproof hood that covers the entire head, a visor that covers the opening of the face and a procedure mask,” Infectious disease expert Dr. John Segreti said.
On Thursday, infection control experts watched as volunteers were drilled on how to put on the protective equipment, and, arguably the most hazardous part of the process, how to get of that gear.
The hospital is also building out a portion of their ICU so it will have biocontainment capacity similar to what the CDC possesses.
Though there haven’t been any cases of Ebola in Chicago so far, the city’s health officials say they’re taking extra precautions.
Chief Medical Officer Julie Morita maintains the risk of infection is extremely low, but the virus is persistent. The recent cases of Ebola in the United States have prompted first responders to receive new training and pressed officials to create “fact sheets” on handling the virus.
Morita said part of the new training includes having 911 dispatchers inquire about a caller’s recent travels if they are experiencing Ebola-like symptoms.
On Thursday, officials announced that the first Dallas nurse to test positive for Ebola would be transferred to a hospital in Maryland.
The second nurse diagnosed with the virus has been taken to Atlanta for treatment.
Segreti emphasized that while the public faces little risk of contracting the virus, healthcare workers are far more likely.
“The sicker the patient gets, the more virus they have and even after the patient dies the number of virus particles continues to increase,” Segreti said.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director, Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, announced Thursday that an Ebola hotline has been activated in Illinois to answer residents’ questions 24 hours a day.
Managed by staff from the Illinois Poison Center, hotline operators will be able to answer questions like how Ebola is spread, who is at risk of being infected, as well as how the state is responding to recent reports.
The hotline number is (800) 889-3931.