AS Guyana continues to strengthen its preparedness to deal with the dreaded Ebola disease, training of local healthcare providers yesterday commenced at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), with the training of the first batch of 20 employees.
The group is comprised of doctors, nurses, porters, technicians and other categories of healthcare providers who will have to come into contact with the targeted patients. All healthcare providers will
be trained, according to Chief Executive Officer of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Mr. Michael Khan. However, initially 1,600 will be trained.
The move by the Ministry of Health to commence training at this time is rather timely and comes just one day after Head of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Tom Frieden was reported as saying, “All health care workers need to be well trained to deal with potential cases in their hospitals.”
Dr. Frieden made this statement on Sunday, “as he raised concerns about the possible breach of safety protocol,” in relation to the case where a Texas healthcare worker had tested positive for the Ebola virus, according to an AP report.
The CDC head is quoted as saying that: “The CDC will investigate how the workers took off protective gear, because removing it incorrectly can lead to contamination,” the report said.
Conducting the training is Dr. Johanna Cole, GPHC’s Internal Medicine – Infectious Diseases Consultant. Dr. Johnson said training will equip participants to deal with the virus and the necessary approach towards administering care to persons who have contracted the virus, as well as those who are suspected to have it.
As part of the initial approach, a high premium is being placed on training
participants in the techniques of putting on and taking off their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) correctly, since, as emphasised by Dr. Frieden as removing them incorrectly can lead to contamination. Such equipment includes gowns, gloves, goggles, mask, shield and footwear.
Putting the PPE on and removing them correctly, cannot be overemphasised, especially since the Texas health care worker who tested positive for Ebola was said the nurse worn ‘full protective gear while caring for a hospitalised patient who later died from the virus.’
In addition, emphasis will be placed on safety and precautionary measures for healthcare providers who may come into contact with an infected person or environment, as Ebola is highly contagious and spreads rapidly through direct or indirect contact with bodily fluids.
Health care workers treating Ebola patients are among the most vulnerable, even if wearing protective gear, and for this reason the Ministry of Health will ensure that training is provided for some 1,600 medical professionals in the ensuing months.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud said that two isolation and housing units for Ebola have been set up – one at the Georgetown Public Hospital and another at the West Demerara Regional (WDR) Hospital. Staff at the WDRL will also be included in the training. The training of the medical personnel is being conducted in the massive facility at the GPHC.
(By Shirley Thomas)