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Darrell Henry, executive director for the Healthcare Coalition for Emergency Preparedness, released a statement following news that the third American missionary to contract the Ebola virus was transferred to the Nebraska Medical Center.
Henry says, “We applaud the Nebraska Medical Center for its preparedness in having an autoclave on-site to handle an Ebola patient and future emergencies. This medical waste system should serve as a model to other medical waste centers and hospitals equipped to handle future highly infectious diseases. Unfortunately, most hospitals in the United States aren’t prepared to treat highly infectious diseases, such as Ebola, that are capable of causing permanent disability or can be life-threatening.”
He continues, “Not only is it unwise, but, due to federal regulations, it is nearly impossible to ship such infected materials via truck to a sterilizer nor is it safe to store such materials on site. It’s clear that having modern infectious material sterilizers on-site at a hospital is essential in an emergency, and paramount for the safety of healthcare workers and the public.”
Last month the Coalition recommended that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) consider developing stricter guidelines, based on World Health Organization recommendations, to protect hospital workers and the public from such exotic infectious diseases.
Ebola is a BSL level 4 pathogen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BSL-4 builds upon the containment requirements of BSL-3 and is the highest level of biological safety. These agents are dangerous and exotic, posing a high risk of aerosol-transmitted infections. Infections caused by these microbes are frequently fatal and without treatment or vaccines.
Per international guidelines, Nebraska Medical Center is equipped with an autoclave on the unit so all medical waste materials will be autoclaved before they are removed from the unit.
The Healthcare Coalition for Emergency Preparedness was formed in an effort to raise awareness and educate people about often overlooked issues in plans to maintain healthcare facility operations during a crisis and develop efficient methods to reduce healthcare costs.
Source: The Healthcare Coalition for Emergency Preparedness