The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has designated facilities to handle any testing, screening, or treatment of an Ebola patient if a case is discovered in Iowa. Health Department director, Gerd is quick to point out no Ebola cases have been detected here, and none are likely to be found.
“The chance of a confirmed or suspected case of Ebola is highly unlikely. With that, we obviously want to be prepared if we had a case occur in the state,” Clabaugh says. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City has agreed to serve as an Ebola treatment facility. Mercy Medical Center and Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines have both agreed to be screening facilities for an Ebola patient. The Area Ambulance, Cedar Rapids; Medic EMS, Davenport; and Iowa EMS Alliance in West Des Moines will provide transportation for patients.
The State Hygienic Lab has been certified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test for Ebola. Clabaugh says having the facilities designated is an important part of planning ahead. “In public health particularly that’s something we do I think a very good job of, and that is as unlikely as it is, we certainly want to be prepared for the possibility of a case arriving in the state,”according to Clabaugh.
He is very confident in all the organizations designated to handle any Ebola cases. “They have highly trained personnel, they’ve got very sophisticated equipment, these are some of our finest facilities in Iowa,” Clabaugh says. “The burden on these facilities to manage the cases is substantial in terms of staff effort, the personal protective equipment that is necessary to protect their staff.”
Clabaugh says his department works closely with the federal government to track travelers returning from Ebola-affected West African countries. “We do have people coming into the state from the West African area who have been in that area of the world, so there are folks at various time who are being monitored for that,” Clabaugh says. “For the last several months the public health system has been involved locally in the monitoring cases, so over that period of time we’ve had a handful individuals over that period of time who have been under active monitoring public health orders.” The public health orders rank the amount of risk from low to high, and are designed to give an early warning of the potential symptoms that might require health care.