Jindal holds meeting to discuss Ebola preparedness
BATON ROUGE - Gov. Bobby Jindal held a meeting Wednesday to gather updates from state agencies to ensure the state is prepared if a case of Ebola were to be confirmed in Louisiana.
The governor said it is important to note that there are no known cases of Ebola in the state at present, but state agencies have been making preparations for the last several weeks to ready Louisiana's public health and medical infrastructure in the event of a Louisiana Ebola case. Procedures for emergency medical workers, hospital physicians and regional emergency response coordinators have been included in the state's readiness plan.
During Wednesday's Unified Command Group Meeting, Gov. Jindal said that the following state agencies have taken the following precautions:
Department of Health and Hospitals
• Distributed information to health care providers in the state, including criteria for suspecting Ebola, how to report suspected cases, how to consult with DHH or seek lab testing, and what symptoms to watch for.
• DHH recently assessed its hospital bed availability to ensure the state has the proper infectious disease treatment capabilities and that the proper facilities are ready should a case of the virus present in Louisiana.
• Engaging directly with hospital CEOs across the state through the Louisiana Hospital Association to ensure hospitals have received and are following CDC guidance and protocols related to Ebola.
• DHH is also meeting with EMS and hospital regional coordinators to specifically discuss plans for responding to a potential Ebola case.
• Information on the signs and symptoms of Ebola was distributed to 911 operators and coroners to inform them on how to handle possible patients. The information was also sent to specific groups who may be more likely to have visitors from West Africa.
• Staying in frequent contact with CDC and federal officials on Ebola developments.
• Sharing disease information with hospitals and local parish emergency managers throughout Louisiana.
• Closely monitoring the confirmed Ebola case in Texas and the ongoing international medical efforts to fight the virus.
• Hosting a series of informational conference calls with local emergency managers and review safety protocol with state and local emergency officials.
• Working with Coast Guard to ensure protocol is in place to identify and contain an incoming sailor or traveler who presents with symptoms at a port or on board a vessel.
Department of Children and Families
• DCFS has 7,500 critical transportation needs shelter beds and 200 medical special needs shelter beds available upon activation.
• DCFS will communicate guidelines and recommendations provided by DHH on communicable disease safety measures to foster families, licensed care facilities and others DCFS has contact with.
• Have resources on hand, including cots, blankets, pillows, hygiene kits, MREs, and bottles of water in the event the resources are needed for the state's response.
Louisiana Department of Education
• Working to circulate guidance advising school districts and teachers of Ebola virus symptoms.
• Sending parent communication home to all families describing the symptoms of Ebola with contact information for local health agencies.
• Communicating with city/parish health officials about students showing any signs of the symptoms.
• Schools should contact LDOE regarding any student instances that are of concern.
Louisiana National Guard
• Medical lab teams with portable equipment are on standby to help identify the virus and test lab samples if necessary.
• Medical treatment tech teams are on standby to administer care if necessary.
• Bio-hazard resources are in place for medical triage if necessary.
Department of Transportation
• Working with airports to ensure protocol is in place to identify and contain an incoming traveler who presents with symptoms.
"While we certainly hope that we never have an Ebola case in Louisiana, we are committed to ensuring that our health care system and emergency responders stand ready and prepared," said Gov. Jindal.