London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has been working diligently to refine its readiness plan and processes as outlined in the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Ebola Virus Disease directives for hospitals.
LHSC has been designated as an Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) treatment hospital, one of four in Ontario, to receive any suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola. This designation builds on our role as a regional referral hospital and LHSC has been planning for some time to deal with Ebola. LHSC is a testing site for suspected Ebola paediatric cases but not a designated centre for confirmed paediatric cases.
“As part of our preparedness for potential Ebola patients, LHSC has worked diligently to educate, train and prepare staff and physicians. This work is ongoing as new information becomes known,” says Laurie Gould, Chief Clinical and Transformation Officer at LHSC.
Much like its peer acute care teaching hospitals, LHSC was already in an advanced stage of readiness having learned from SARS, MERS CoV and Avian Flu. The hospital’s preparation work for EVD has taken this to another level and as the health ministry provides additional directives, LHSC continues to refine its readiness plan and provide regular updates on changes and new information.
LHSC’s preparedness for potential Ebola patients includes:
- Flow maps of possible entry points, priority of actions and key accountabilities
- Active screening at all points of entry such as the EDs, Family Medical Centres, Critical Care Units and Birthing Centre, as well as Ambulatory clinics with screening requirements for symptoms and travel history
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits provided to entry points
- New guides for donning and doffing the one-piece suits as well as buddy system for ensuring correct procedure
- Training sessions for entry point areas
- Refresh of all PPE training
- Regular practice drills
- Up-to-date resources posted for all staff on the hospital’s intranet
- Handout for patients who are screened as suspected Ebola
- Robust communication plan and communication processes with key partners
Focused consultation and planning has occurred with stakeholders including the Adult and Paediatric Emergency Departments, Critical Care, Family Medical Centres, OB Triage, Ambulatory Clinics, Occupational Health and Safety, Security, Environmental Services, Waste Management, Respiratory Therapy, Laboratory Medicine and Diagnostic Imaging, and Morgue.
The hospital has and continues to conduct tabletop exercises with key areas to practice the EMS response and transport of a suspected patient to LHSC, the Emergency Department response, and the interfacility response.“Our preparation and training has everything to do with the provision of excellent patient care in exceptional circumstances without compromising the health of our staff and physicians,” says Gould. “Our goal is to ensure every staff member and physician has a safe working environment, and every patient and family member is protected from exposure to Ebola Virus Disease.”
Remaining vigilant in patient screening, continuing comprehensive staff and physician training, and ongoing refinement and testing of its preparedness is key to LHSC’s readiness to receive and treat patients with Ebola Virus Disease.