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Emory's "Team Ebola" wins statewide Hospital Hero Award

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Janet Christenbury
Emory Healthcare
Erin Stewart
Georgia Hospital Association
Video courtesy of the Georgia Hospital Association

"Team Ebola" of the Emory University Hospital (EUH) Serious Communicable Disease Unit (SCDU) was awarded the prestigious Georgia Hospital Heroes Award at the Georgia Hospital Association’s (GHA) Annual Meeting on Nov. 11. "Team Ebola", one of only 10 recipients statewide to receive the award, was recognized for their care of four patients who were treated for Ebola virus disease last year.

Traditionally, the Hospital Hero Awards are presented to individuals; however, an exception was made for "Team Ebola," due to the extraordinary amount of teamwork and cooperation from the many individuals it took to care for the four patients.

In late July 2014, Emory Healthcare received a request to transfer two American health care professionals with confirmed Ebola virus disease from Liberia. These two individuals would be the first people to be treated for the Ebola virus on U.S. soil. The decision to accept these patients at Emory University Hospital resulted in activation of the Serious Communicable Disease Unit (SCDU) led by Medical Director Bruce Ribner, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

"Team Ebola" consists of infectious disease physicians, critical care nurses, pathologists, medical technologists, environmental services, facilities management, public safety, spiritual health, food and nutrition services, internal communications, media relations, as well as physicians and nurses from many other services. Team members volunteered to work with these patients and their families. 

At a time of public fear, concern and intense media attention, "Team Ebola" stayed focused on its core mission: to provide safe, effective and compassionate care to the individuals in need. With activation of the SCDU, the team carefully reviewed procedures established and practiced over the past 12 years to ensure the safe care of patients and the care team. The nurses and physicians strictly adhered to rigid protocols, which included specific, detailed processes around cleaning up and handling contaminated materials; daily monitoring of team members’ personal health to ensure they were not at risk; and working with an observer to ensure protocols were followed. 

"A true team approach, intense training and top expertise in caring for patients with serious communicable diseases were all crucial factors in treating our patients with confirmed Ebola virus disease," says Bryce Gartland, MD, CEO of Emory University Hospital. "We are proud of our successes, and have made it our mission to teach others around the globe what we have learned from these successes."

In the end, the four patients admitted to the hospital with Ebola virus were successfully treated and discharged.

"We applaud the core clinical team, along with every other staff member at Emory involved in the care of the patients diagnosed with Ebola virus disease," said GHA President and CEO Earl Rogers. "The work of ‘Team Ebola’ is a first-class example of not only exceptional patient care, but also of what can be accomplished through collaboration and communication. It was truly a group effort to ensure that all patients were discharged disease-free. The group is a most-deserving recipient of this award." 

About Emory Healthcare

Emory Healthcare, with almost 16,000 employees, is the largest and most comprehensive health system in Georgia. It includes: Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, Emory University Hospital at Wesley Woods, Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Emory Rehabilitation Hospital in Partnership with Select Medical, Emory Clinic, Emory Specialty Associates and the Emory Healthcare Network.

In fiscal year 2014, Emory Healthcare had $2.6 billion in annual net revenue and provided $67.4 million in charity care. System-wide, it has 1,870 licensed patient beds.

Emory Healthcare is the only health system in Georgia with two Magnet-designated hospitals, Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital and Emory University Hospital, for nursing excellence.

About GHA

Established in 1929, GHA is the state’s largest trade organization of hospitals and health systems providing education, research and risk management services to its more than 170 hospital and health system members. Additionally, it represents and advocates health policy issues benefiting Georgia’s citizens before the state legislature and U.S. Congress as well as before regulatory bodies.

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