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CDC Promises Special Ebola Response Teams

CDC experts have moved into a Dallas hospital to help improve infection control there.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's moved a team of experienced experts in to help a Dallas hospital where a nurse became infected with Ebola to improve "every step in the process." And they'll send in a special response team to help any hospital in the future that gets an Ebola patient.

The team will help workers there improve their techniques for safely caring for Nina Pham, who was infected while herself caring for Thomas Eric Duncan before he died.

"The first and most important is ensuring that every hour of the day there’s a site manager there who is overseeing aspects of infection control," CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden told a news conference. One thing the site manager will do is make sure someone spots workers as they put on and take off personal protective equipment (PPE).

And he promised any hospital that receives an Ebola patient that CDC will help with a special response team. "We will put a team on the ground within hours with some of the world's leading experts on how to take care of and prevent health workers form Ebola virus infection," Frieden said.

"I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed. That might have prevented this infection," Frieden added. "But we are prepared to do this in the future with any case anywhere in the U.S."

More patients with Ebola are likely to turn up in the US so long as the epidemic continues in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, Frieden says. The World Health Organization says nearly 9,000 people have been infected and more than 4,400 have died.

CDC will also recommend that the hospital limit the number of staffers treating Pham, both so they can become very familiar with how to safely care for her and to make sure they are systematic in putting on and taking off gear.

"I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed. That might have prevented this infection."

Emory University, which successfully treated Ebola patients Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, said it would send two experienced nurses to help Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

"By sending two of our nurses who have been directly involved in the care of Emory patients infected with the Ebola virus, we hope to provide on the ground standard operating procedures for PPE usage, based on CDC guidelines,” Nancye Feistritzer, chief nursing officer at Emory University Hospital, said in a statement.

“We also want to be a resource to other organizations who are facing the need to train direct care providers and to ensure adherence to protocols designed to keep the care team safe.”

Cindy Zolnierek, Executive Director of Texas Nurses Association, said the group was pleased to hear that Pham is doing well, and emphasized that all hospitals must be prepared in case another patient turns up. But she said that's something nurses are trained to do.

“Nurses deal with infectious disease every day in their line of work," she told a press conference Tuesday. She said given the right support, training and equipment, she was confident nurses were able to care for Ebola patients. "They’re fundamentally prepared to care for patients with infectious disease.”