As the country continues bolstering its preparedness efforts around infectious diseases, Greater Cincinnati has a unique opportunity to lead those efforts for our region.

Recently, several local hospitals have taken steps toward becoming state-designated Ebola Assessment Hospitals.

Assessment hospitals are hospitals identified by state health officials, in collaboration with local health authorities and the hospital administration, as the point of referral for those individuals being actively monitored and who develop symptoms compatible with Ebola such as fever.

The CDC and the Ohio Department of Health recently visited hospitals in the region to assess the capability to receive, isolate, and provide safe care during the assessment of patients with suspected Ebola virus disease.  Hospitals are committed to meeting all elements within 11 capability domains: Facility Infrastructure-patient room(s); Patient Transportation; Laboratory; Staffing; Training; PPE; Waste Management; Worker Safety; Environmental Services; Clinical Management; and Operations Coordination.

If approved, these hospitals will have the capability to: evaluate and care for someone displaying the first symptoms of Ebola for up to 96 hours; initiate and coordinate testing for Ebola and for other emerging infectious diseases; and either rule out Ebola or transfer the individual to an Ebola treatment center, as needed.

Hospitals in Columbus, Cleveland, and Toledo are currently awaiting site visits to establish their designation as state-designated Ebola Assessment Hospitals. However, the region could have up to five state-designated Ebola Assessment Hospitals.

Tonda Francis, VP, Regional Coordination and Clinical Initiatives, says Cincinnati’s demonstrated strength in the area of regional preparedness is a testament to the collaboration the hospitals have shown in developing and strengthening their preparedness programs.

“The surveyors at both the state and federal levels were very impressed with the level of commitment the hospitals displayed, as well as they regional collaboration among the hospitals and public health departments toward meeting this challenge,” she said.

With the assessment phase complete, the hospitals will move forward with conducting training exercises and additional preparedness efforts to address other emerging infectious diseases as they present.

For more information, please contact Tonda Francis at TFrancis@healthcollab.org.