Guest: Barbara Citarella is the president and founder of RBC Limited Healthcare and Management Consultants, a national leader in the home health and hospice industry in addition to disaster planning. As the only recognized expert in the area of home care and hospice disaster planning, she specializes in emergency disaster planning, bioterrorism, health care development and operations. She provides education to law enforcement and government agencies, health care providers, private sector, first responders, national and state associations in all aspects of disaster preparedness.
The new enhanced guidance from CDC is centered on three principles:
All healthcare workers undergo rigorous training and are practiced and competent with PPE, including putting it on and taking it off in a systemic manner
No skin exposure when PPE is worn
All workers are supervised by a trained monitor who watches each worker putting PPE on and taking it off.
These principles and other guidance listed on the new advisory appear to be geared towards healthcare facilities and are based on lessons learned from those hospitals and clinics that have treated Ebola cases in the US thus far, including Emory University Hospital, Nebraska Medical Center and National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.
Also on October 20th, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and Boston Public Health Commission released updated clinical guidance on sending in patient specimens for laboratory testing for suspected Ebola cases. According to DPH, prior to sending a sample, the facility should consult the MDPH Hinton State Laboratory Institute for specimen collection, handling, packaging and transport advice via the 24/7 lab number (617-590-6390).
More information will be shared as it becomes available.
Through press conferences and announcements, state officials have repeatedly stressed that the likelihood of an Ebola case is Massachusetts is “very low,” but that does not mean local healthcare providers should not be prepared and the general public should not be educated on the issue.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has posted information and resources on a special webpage with guidance for clinicians and other helpful information. Misinformation about the disease has caused some of the concern, but the state continues to monitor the situation.
Here is part of a recent Public Health Advisory:
Massachusetts is well prepared to handle an incidence of Ebola, in the unlikely event that a case should occur in the Commonwealth. The public can have full confidence that our hospitals have the expertise, preparedness and capacity to handle such a situation. The infectious disease controls in Massachusetts and the United States are world class. Should a patient present Ebola symptoms, the patient would be quickly isolated and treated to prevent the spread of this disease.
Home care agencies have unique responsibilities to their clients during disasters, epidemics, and terrorist attack.
But they also have unique resources. The simplest way to prepare for a disaster is to speak to your clients about the matter and to encourage them to take precautions and make plans. A great starting point is the new Disaster Preparedness: For Seniors By Seniorsbrochure from the American Red Cross. This handsome, 13-page brochure covers all the basics — with special attention to seniors including:
Building a disaster kit (including medications);
Planning an escape route;
Staying informed after a disaster takes place; and
Knowing what resources are available;
Best of all, the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health is making copies availablefree of charge. Just download the order form, send it in, and they’ll send you up to 500 copies.
Even more importantly, disaster preparedness is vitally important — literally — for home care agencies. That’s why the Alliance partnered with DPH to develop the the Home Health Care Emergency Preparedness Handbook. The Handbookpresents Alliance best practices for preparing for natural disasters, epidemics, and terrorism. Contents include:
Standards of Care;
Patient Tracking Controls;
Emergency Communication Resources;
Home Health Care Emergency Planning Resources;
Emergency Planning Training Resources;
The Handbook also contains extensive appendixes on: