The Ebola Virus outbreak in West Africa has caused concern for many people in the United States that it could spread this way.
Since Traverse City is a prime travel destination, the Grand Traverse County Health Department and Munson Medical Center have teamed up to form a plan if any cases should pop up in the area.
??Because of world travel you always have the risk of new viruses coming into our country,?? said Doctor Karen Speirs, the Munson Medical Director of Infection Prevention. ??There is a risk with that. We have already brought two patients back that do have symptoms of the Ebola virus. It??s there. We have to be prepared for anything that is coming across the waters.??
Health leaders say that the likelihood of the Ebola Virus spreading outside of West Africa is very low, but doctors still want to stay on top of it just in case it does.
??Much of the plan is right up front screenings,?? said Wendy Trute, the Grand Traverse County Health Department Health Officer. ??So EMS screenings on the front end trying to find out whether or not people have been traveling to the affected area and then also somewhat based on signs and symptoms.??
Trute says the health department??s other role is to have conversations with people who have traveled to the affected area and feel they may have come in contact with someone who had the virus.
Health Department officials stress that the only people who need to be concerned are those who have had actual exposure to the bodily fluids of someone with the Ebola Virus.
??If they??ve been in Africa and they exhibit symptoms then we have to have that on our radar that it could be a possibility and we need to isolate right away,?? said Speirs. ??That??s the first protocol.??
Keeping medical staff safe from the virus is also part of the protocol. If a patient does come in with the symptoms and is isolated, the staff around that patient will be required to put gowns, gloves, and surgical masks on.
These patients will be kept in an isolated negative pressure room.
Health leaders say their goal is not to alarm the community, and only to educate people on the risks and to show them that safety is the number one priority.
??Traverse City, the region itself is a regional hub,?? said Trute. ??For medical care, Munson is the regional hospital. So from that perspective we sometimes are going to take a more proactive approach just to be as prepared as we possibly can.??
The Grand Traverse County Health Department and Munson Medical Center say there have not been any reports of the Ebola Virus in Grand Traverse County.
They say they??ve also shared their safety plans with neighboring hospitals and health offices.
For information on the Ebola Virus, click here.