Ebola Update #2 to Baptist Health Staff – Oct. 16, 2014

Thank you for the many positive comments and good suggestions related to the update from Monday. I encourage you to continue to bring forth your comments. As expected, the situation has continued to evolve over the last 48 hours. We continue to closely monitor the Texas Hospital circumstances to learn anything that might apply to us at Baptist Health. One thing that you may not know is that for many years we have used a national expert in emergency preparedness to help us ensure that we are ready for all types of emergencies. He specializes in environmental health, safety and emergency preparedness and response. He has been with us on-site here in Miami all week.

Next week, we have a national physician expert in Ebola, Aileen Marty, M.D., speaking to our key physicians and nurse leaders on her experience in managing this threat both domestically and through her experiences on the ground in West Africa. Dr. Marty is on the faculty of the FIU College of Medicine and we are fortunate to have her available to us on short notice. Any information that we receive from these meetings will be passed on and incorporated into our practices as appropriate.

We have all of the necessary personal protective gear available and on-site. If a patient arrives at any of our facilities, all of the equipment needed is here. We will continue to add to our stockpile in the coming days. If there are any changes in recommendations, or new best practices recommended by the CDC, we will implement them immediately.

Overall, the situation here for us at Baptist Health South Florida remains the same. We have received no patients who are positive for Ebola. There have been no cases in Florida, and the only three cases thus far have been at Texas Presbyterian. However, as stated before, we are a major city with a large population, and many visitors on a daily basis from all over the world. The possibility continues to exist that a patient could turn up in one of our facilities.

At this point, the Centers for Disease Control have established “SWAT” teams who will be immediately dispatched to the location of any patient who has tested positive for Ebola. The two nurses in Texas were taken to the designated centers at Emory University in Atlanta and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland (there are two more in Nebraska and Montana). While it has not been confirmed as of this writing, we are monitoring closely to understand whether this will be the standard procedure for all infected patients.

A safe working environment is of utmost importance to us as healthcare professionals, and as caring members of the Baptist Health family. If you feel that you have not received necessary information, training, or guidance about this issue, please raise your hand and say so. Your supervisor and everyone in your chain of command are ready and willing to provide it. They are backed up by the Emergency Preparedness Department, our Infection Control staff and Safety Managers. The information is available, the training is available and the equipment is here.

Tomorrow is our annual, regularly scheduled Emergency Preparedness Drill. These drills help us improve our response to all potential disasters, and this will as well. Thank you, as always, for your hard work and dedication to our community, and each other.

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Ebola Update #1 to Baptist Health Staff – Oct. 13, 2014

As news about the Ebola virus in the United States continues to evolve on a daily basis, I want to assure you that Baptist Health South Florida is prepared to safely and effectively handle any potential cases of the virus, and we are taking all necessary precautions to protect our patients, and you.

All Baptist Health facilities follow the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in preparing for and managing patients with Ebola or other infectious diseases. Our Emergency Preparedness teams and leaders, including infection control experts from across the organization, have been meeting weekly to ensure that our hospitals, outpatient facilities, and primary care offices fully understand the CDC’s guidelines for patient care, and importantly, for their personal safety and protection. We are in constant contact with local, state, and federal officials. Our effectiveness is based on a uniform, system-wide response that utilizes a standardized process and standardized equipment. There is no room for variation of practice. However, I fully expect that this information and these guidelines will change or be amended as this situation continues to unfold. We will communicate any changes to our practices as it happens, and we will implement those changes as a system.

The Chief Nursing Officers are in regular communication to ensure our patient care procedures and safety practices are consistently followed throughout our hospitals and outpatient settings. They have checked for readiness in the most likely walk-in locations of the ED’s, Urgent Care Centers, and Primary Care offices, and are continuing to ensure all clinical locations have what they need to perform. Information is being shared on a daily basis, through training, seminars and emergency drills. Personal responsibility is part of the preparation equation, so if you have any questions about training or resources needed to do your job effectively, please contact your supervisor immediately.

Hurricanes have caused us to have special preparation expertise, but Baptist Health South Florida dedicates major resources to stay ready for all potential events, including this one. Our health system has a unique advantage in these situations with a dedicated, full-time Emergency Preparedness Department. They work year-round, frequently behind the scenes, for just this type of circumstance. These experts are a resource for you. The seven-member department is led by John Braden, M.D., Medical Director (johnbr@bpatisthealth.net); and Jean Arias, R.N., Emergency Preparedness Director (jeanar@baptisthealth.net). In addition, they coordinate the Emergency Response Teams, 26 people with additional training who are deployed in every part of the organization to respond in crisis situations. This Friday is our annual system-wide emergency preparedness drill, and we have oriented this event to help us further test our readiness.

In real time, we are seeing the results of our readiness, as well as the results of the intense media focus on this issue. Over the weekend, three potential patients presented themselves at three different Baptist Health facilities, West Kendall Baptist Hospital, Brickell Urgent Care, and University Urgent Care. The staff responded in a calm and expert manner, and these patients were managed appropriately, and ruled not a risk for Ebola. We can expect patients who are concerned about Ebola to present to our facilities in increasing numbers.

We recognize that for us to be able to respond to any crisis, we must be sure that our staff can safely perform our mission to the community. The Board of Baptist Health provides and will continue to provide the resources, training and equipment to be ready for any emergency. The community will always look to us for calm, responsible leadership in stressful healthcare situations and it is important that you are able to express confidence about our readiness. Thank you for your preparation, compassion and dedication that you show all of our patients, and each other, every day.

Wayne Brackin

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