Emergency management officials in Sioux City, South Dakota are working closely with local hospitals to prepare the city for an outbreak of the Ebola virus, should one occur there. While city officials admit that the chances of the virus spreading to Sioux City are slim, they want the community to take every precaution in order to be prepared in the event that a worst case scenario involving Ebola does happen. The Siouxland District Health Department is also working with emergency management personnel to help hospitals stock up on essential supplies such as protective gear for hospital workers. They are also reviewing and updating the cities infection control guidelines and preparing staff.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently sent out updated guidelines to hospital administrators and emergency management officials across the country as well as to first responders and funeral homes after the first diagnosis of Ebola was issued in the United States in Texas. That patient fell ill and went to a hospital in Dallas but was initially misdiagnosed and sent home with only antibiotics. He died this past week. The CDC reported recently that the chances of contracting Ebola are very low unless there is direct and unprotected contact with an infected individual’s bodily fluids.
Nevertheless, Sioux City emergency management officials are not taking any chances and have adopted a “better safe than sorry” approach in dealing with the possibility of an Ebola outbreak, however small that possibility may be. The two main hospitals in Sioux City – St. Luke’s and Mercy Hospital – have established several isolation rooms and have tripled their inventory of protective gear such as leg and show coverings, impenetrable gloves, face shields, and gowns per suggestions offered up by emergency management officials. They also have a number of powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) but those are not required by the CDC as part of their Ebola guidelines.