Colorado Medical Society

State health officials and professionals preparing for possibility of Ebola case

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 09:18 AM

Mark Salley, CDPHE Communications Director
303-692-2013 |

DENVER – “It is not possible to predict whether there will be an Ebola case in Colorado. It is necessary to be prepared,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The department, in collaboration with the Colorado Hospital Association, the Colorado Medical Society, the Colorado Nurses Association and the Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials, continues to refine statewide plans for responding to a possible case of Ebola, and to assist hospitals, health care providers and first responders in their preparations. Preparations include educating health care staff and practicing scenarios about caring for patients with Ebola, including use of personal protective equipment, triage of suspected patients, logistics of providing ongoing care, and appropriate control procedures for hazardous material handling and disposal.

“Colorado hospitals are working to protect the health and safety of patients and their families, health care workers and local communities in light of the national threat posed by Ebola,” said Steven J. Summer, president and CEO of the Colorado Hospital Association. “We are closely monitoring national developments and implementing the resources necessary to achieve appropriate levels of preparedness. We know coordinated efforts are necessary to adequately prepare and respond to this threat.”

While these groups represent the majority of hospitals, physicians, nurses and public health agencies in the state, the department also is working closely with its many other health partners to ensure accurate and evidence-based information is relied upon at any point that a potential patient may access the health care system.

“By working closely with all of our health care partners, we are helping to ensure Colorado’s preparedness for any potential Ebola virus exposures. Indeed, it is by coordinating efforts throughout the health care system that Colorado best can prepare,” said Dr. Tamaan Osbourne-Roberts, president of the Colorado Medical Society. “Together, we will make every effort to inform providers and the public on policies and procedures to contain the Ebola virus, if necessary, in order to maintain the health and safety of Coloradans.”

Dr. Colleen Casper, executive director of the Colorado Nurses Association, said, “The association is working diligently with our health care partners in Colorado and with the CDC to ensure the state’s hospitals and health care workers are engaged in evidence-based, comprehensive education and preparedness to ensure the safety of the public and health care professionals.”

Lisa VanRaemdonck, executive director of Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials, said, “Every local public health agency in Colorado has expertise in planning for, training on, and responding to emergencies, especially communicable disease outbreaks. Every day, in partnership with CDPHE and health care partners, local public health agency teams are monitoring the diseases in their communities and using well-established techniques to prevent, find and stop disease outbreaks.”

On Friday, Oct. 10, the department hosted a conference call providing the latest information and guidance about Ebola preparations. Nearly 400 health care professionals from around the state participated in the call. The department is planning weekly calls to provide health care workers with the latest updates from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state of Colorado, and address questions posed by health care providers.

CDPHE has also expanded information services for the general public. People can call CO-HELP, 1-877-462-2911 or (Denver area) 303-389-1687, for answers to Ebola questions. The public also can obtain information and guidance from both the department and CDC websites. Topics include signs and symptoms, transmission, risk of exposure, diagnosis and information for health care workers. Information is added and updated as it becomes available.