County prepares for Ebola

Health officials in Wood County are preparing their own response plans following news that a nurse
infected with Ebola traveled through northern Ohio.
Nearly 4,500 people have died of the disease during the current outbreak, mostly in West Africa. Two
nurses who treated a patient in the U.S. were found to be infected themselves, one of whom visited Akron
and flew from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday.
"This is something that’s kind of evolving day by day, like most of these incidents do," said
Ben Batey, Wood County health commissioner. "We’re making sure our collaborating partners are in
the loop."
Batey said a pair of meetings were scheduled Thursday to include representatives of Bowling Green State
University, Wood County Hospital and the Wood County Emergency Management Agency.
"We’re kind of coordinating a game plan around how we’re going to be vigilant on this," Batey
The Ohio Department of Health requested that hospitals across the state immediately organize an emergency
preparedness drill for Ebola, something the hospital had already been preparing for, said Dr. Michael
Lemon, a WCH pediatrician who is also medical director of the county health clinic.
Lemon and other hospital representatives during a conference call stressed that efforts are being made to
ensure employees have up to date information on the disease itself and how to respond to and contain its
means of transmission.
"It isn’t one drill, but a series of activities to make sure everyone is really sharp," said
Dr. Stan Korducki, hospital president. He added that WCH has increased its stock of protective equipment
for health workers and provided a script for employees to screen for symptoms.
Dawn Mason, the hospital’s infection control specialist, said workers have also been reviewing the case
history of the disease, as well as how to properly use protective equipment and isolate and move a
possibly-infected patient.
"This is obviously covered through orientation, but we’re doing a refresher to make sure everyone is
aware of what to do in a suspected case."
There have been no concerns observed in the Wood County area, and while there have been no travel
restrictions imposed following the news of several infected patients in the U.S., it will be important
to be prepared when BGSU students get ready to leave for the holidays, Batey said.
For now, the most important task is education.
People should know that Ebola infection has only shown to be the result of close contact with the bodily
fluids of an infected person who is exhibiting symptoms. Even being in the same room with that person
wouldn’t necessarily result in transmission of the virus, as it can’t be transferred through the air,
Batey said.
"I’m hearing about a lot of people looking at news stories and saying ‘I had just traveled to Dallas
or Cleveland.’
"Just because you were in the same city as someone who was infected, that’s not really a
Hospital officials echoed Batey’s comments on educating the public and stressed the importance of
"We’re trying to really stay connected and share information to make sure that we’re ready to do our
part if we’re called upon," Korducki said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been working to contact those who were on the flight
with a nurse who reported a fever before traveling from Cleveland to Dallas.
The Ohio Department of Health has opened a 24-hour call center to answer the public’s questions about
Ebola and how it affects Ohioans. For information, call 1-866-800-1404 to speak with public health
professionals and infectious disease specialists.
"ODH’s call center will provide timely, accurate, credible information about Ebola and the state’s
response," Dr. Mary DiOrio, state epidemiologist and interim chief of the ODH Bureau of Prevention
and Health Promotion, stated in a news release.
More information is available from the CDC at