WHEELING, W.Va. — Until the Ebola outbreak in Africa is under control, medical providers are expected to ask incoming patients about their travel history and related symptoms, said Howard Gamble, Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department administrator.
And some medical facilities, such as Wheeling Hospital, have taken screening patients a step further by posting signs at their entrances. Signs at the hospital state, “If you recently traveled to or from Africa, or have come into contact with someone who has, please immediately tell our staff member at this desk.”
Gamble said when his department met with local health care providers, including hospitals and clinics, along with first responders and schools, he told officials they should ask incoming patients about their travel history and symptoms. But the measure, he said, was not a requirement or mandate handed down by the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“All health care providers should be asking those questions,” Gamble said. “We asked all the facilities here about three weeks ago … to begin screening. Not just hospitals and physicians but anyone taking care of someone who has signs and symptoms.”
If someone enters a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital showing symptoms of the disease, medical personnel need to ask that person if they have traveled to any of the African countries where the outbreak is occurring, he said.
If necessary, the next step is to isolate the patient and conduct testing to confirm the patient has the disease, he said.
“If they are at a clinic or a physician’s office (where testing can’t be done) they need to isolate and call 911,” Gamble said.