CORNWALL, Ontario – Patients who present themselves at the Cornwall Community Hospital’s emergency room with symptoms and interactions consistent with the Ebola virus will find themselves whisked to Ottawa in short order.
Cornwall Community Hospital CEO Jeanette Despatie said the hospital has protocols in place that isolate these patients prior to sending them to the nation’s capital – be it the Ottawa Hospital or CHEO depending on the age of the patient.
“They are taken by ambulance – and EMS is on notice too,” said Despatie. “They would (employ) infection control protocols as well.”
A degree of fear rippled through eastern Ontario on the weekend when word spread that a patient in Ottawa was being tested for Ebola. The test eventually came back negative.
Desptaie said health officials decided to centralize treatment in Ottawa because of the dangers in dealing with potentially infected bodily fluids.
Ebola spreads through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.
Immediately upon presenting at the emergency room with Ebola symptoms (including fever), coupled with travel history or interactions with persons from West Africa, a patient will be isolated – hopefully in a so-called negative-pressure room, if one is available.
The protocols also include ensuring the proper equipment is available to effectively monitor the patient during their stay at the Cornwall hospital, limiting contact between the patient and non-essential staff, and also logging the identities of who has been in contact with the individual.
Test results are expected shortly regarding another patient in Belleville who is being screened for Ebola.
Things are getting worse in West Africa, where the World Health Organization predicts up to 10,000 new Ebola cases are possible a week within two months, adding that the death rate in the current outbreak has risen to 70 per cent.
Paul Roumeliotis, the medical officer of health with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, was not immediately available for comment.