OHSU participating in Ebola drill Thursday, October 23

Although the odds of seeing a patient with Ebola virus here in Portland are low, OHSU continues to actively prepare for the possibility of a suspected or confirmed case.

On Thurday, Oct. 23, Multnomah County Emergency Medical Services will be running a full-scale practice drill, in collaboration with OHSU’s Emergency Department. The drill will include receiving, transporting and isolating someone roleplaying as a potentially infectious patient (an actor) from the Portland airport to OHSU.

The drill will take place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with ambulances, fire trucks and emergency and medical personnel in full protective gear on our Marquam Hill campus. Other hospitals will also be participating in drills with the MCEMS over the coming weeks.

Please remember, this is not a real Ebola patient, and this drill does not mean that OHSU has been designated as a hospital to receive Ebola patients.

We are working very hard to ensure that employees are protected while providing care for patients. If or when a patient with suspected Ebola virus disease is identified, we will deploy a highly trained and experienced team to care for the patient, thereby limiting exposure to others.

We are putting protocols in place to rapidly identify potentially infected individuals across OHSU, including the Emergency Department, inpatient services and clinics on and off campus.

Our multidisciplinary response plan allows us to provide the necessary medical care while minimizing the risk to health care workers and our community. We know from experience that good infection control practices can prevent the spread of viruses like Ebola.

OHSU has conducted tabletop emergency preparedness exercises and continues to participate in regional preparedness discussions with local, state and federal health officials, as well as peer hospitals and health systems citywide. Our collective goal is to ensure a collaborative, citywide response to Ebola virus.

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John Townes, M.D. is the Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control at OHSU and Associate Professor of Medicine,
 Division of Infectious Diseases at OHSU and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center.