HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Blood, sweat, and almost every bodily fluid transmits the deadly disease known as Ebola. The place you come into contact with all of those: a hospital.
The very same place a patient is being treated can quickly become the same place another patient contracts the virus.
In fact, the CDC notes that “during outbreaks of Ebola, the disease can spread quickly within healthcare settings.
This can quickly turn the healthcare provider into the patient. It is also the reason Grand Strand Medical Center is providing training for staff members to use Personal Protective Equipment, or a PPE.
A tent is set up on the hospital grounds, simply to give a designated area for instructors to show healthcare workers the proper way to suit up.
“With Ebola we have to have ‘no skin in the game' that's the term the CDC uses. We're making sure everything is protected and doing two tiers of training,” explained Winona McLamb, the Health and Education Director and also an Infection Preventionist with GSMC.
The first tier is for the person not losing a lot of body fluid. The second tier is for someone losing a lot of body fluid and the staff needs to make sure they are in waterproof suits and completely covered.
McLamb demonstrated the PPE, which is set at CDC requirements. The suit covers a worker from head to toe with additional components added to cover the face and hands.
“There is a right way to put it on. We're using a buddy system to make sure you are putting on your material, following all the steps and observing to make sure all your skin is covered,” said McLamb while explaining the staff works in three person teams.
She pointed out even more important than learning how to properly put on the PPE is how to take it off.
“You have the outside contaminated so we need to make sure you take it off properly so you don't contaminate the clothing underneath or your skin,” said McLamb.
The Infection Preventionist believes the hospital is at a low-risk when it comes to an Ebola Outbreak.
“But every hospital across the country has an obligation to take care of whatever illness comes through. And we have an obligation to our staff to make sure they know how to do it safely,” McLamb pointed out.
While she works to get her staff feeling comfortable and confident in wearing the PPE, she explained there will also be a board with directions for healthcare workers to reference in a time of need.
“When we do it in real life, there will be a board we are reading step by step. We're not just relaying on memory. We are looking, we are reading, we have two people observing to make sure everything is done properly,” explained McLamb.
She said the hospital will provide the training as long as there is a threat for Ebola and will consider offering it quarterly or monthly depending on the needs of the staff.