Chances may be slight, but Valley hospitals prep for Ebola

Posted: Updated:
GOODYEAR, AZ (CBS5) -

As of 2012, the U.S. Census found nearly 21,000 African natives were calling Arizona home.

"Phoenix is a conglomeration of people from all over the world," said Dr. Leslie Easley, the Chief Hospitalist for West Valley Hospital in Goodyear.

Health professionals at the CDC and here in the Valley are taking precautions to ensure our area doesn't experience a health crisis.

"What's so concerning about Ebola is that the stakes are so high," said CDC Director Tom Frieden. "A single lapse in standard infection control could be fatal."

The Centers for Disease Control issued a "Level-1" alert to medical facilities such as West Valley Hospital. Wendy Oliva, a spokeswoman with Abrazo Health, the hospital's parent company issued a statement on how they are responding:

Abrazo Health's six hospitals and other medical facilities are reviewing existing standard, contact, and droplet precautions with our triage and emergency departments for management of hospitalized patients with known or suspected Ebolahemorrhagic fever (Ebola HF) based on the Center for Disease Control's Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations.

"We're trained to do that," Dr. Easley said.

Easley says that means anyone who comes into their hospital exhibiting even the slightest sign of possible Ebola is, "...going to be screened."

Abrazo Health holds daily meetings with supervisors where staff is updated about infectious illnesses. They know if someone is exhibiting suspicious symptoms they should ask if the patient has traveled recently to a country endemic to Ebola and if they've been around anyone that's sick.

"They will be immediately placed into isolation precautions while we investigate the cause of their illness," Easley added.

West Valley Hospital went live July 21 with the only "Level-1" trauma center in the West Valley. That means there's a wider range of providers at that facility trained to handle patients with life-threatening conditions.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation) All rights reserved.