Regional Ebola treatment centers talk preparedness at NETEC Summit
Woodruff Health Sciences Center | July 12, 2017
While we often don't want to think about the next outbreak of a serious infectious disease or pathogen, hospitals across the country are busy preparing and planning for what may be on the horizon. Ten medical centers around the U.S., designated by the government as Regional Ebola and other Special Pathogen Treatment Centers (RESPTCs), attended the National Ebola Treatment and Education Center (NETEC) RESPTC Summit at Emory University in late June.
The two-day event brought the centers together to hear from experts in the field, share experiences and discuss best practices. More than 135 people from the 10 centers attended the summit.
NETEC is led by faculty and staff from Emory University, the University of Nebraska Medical Center/Nebraska Medicine and NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. All three health care facilities safely and successfully treated patients with Ebola virus disease in 2014.
A $24 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funds the program.
"Based on the dialogue and focus at these NETEC meetings and beyond, we are finding that many hospital systems are a lot farther along in their thinking and planning than we were prior to the Ebola epidemic," says Colleen Kraft, MD, associate professor of pathology and medicine (infectious diseases) at Emory University School of Medicine. "That preparedness will not only help us give the best care to our patients, but it will also help keep our health care providers safe from illness."
The keynote speaker, Michael Jacobs, PhD, from the Royal Free London Hospital detailed how high-consequence infectious diseases are managed in the U.K. Three patients with Ebola virus disease were cared for at the Royal Free in 2014, with one returning in 2015 and 2016 with complications from Ebola virus.
Separate working groups for conference attendees included topics on EMS (emergency medical services) transport logistics, laboratory specimen transport, caring for pediatric patients with highly infectious diseases, ethics of the treatment in a biocontainment unit and more.
"There's a well-known saying that failing to prepare is preparing to fail," says Bruce Ribner, MD, MPH, medical director of Emory University Hospital's Serious Communicable Diseases Unit and professor of medicine (infectious diseases) at Emory. "If the U.S. ceases to move along the line of emergency infectious disease preparedness and ceases to devote the resources for health care workers to continuously practice how to manage an infectious disease outbreak, then we will not be able to manage the inevitable infectious disease outbreak when it occurs on U.S. shores."
Besides NETEC's regional Ebola treatment centers, there are more than 50 Ebola treatment centers throughout the U.S., which are in various stages of preparedness and planning.
For more on NETEC and upcoming training conferences, visit netec.org.