Lourdes Medical Center in Pasco didn’t have an “Ebola scare” this week, despite some online news reports, officials said.
Three people who were at the hospital Tuesday for routine blood work recently had traveled from East Africa. However, they showed no signs or symptoms of Ebola and hadn’t been in a part of Africa with any cases, said Lourdes spokeswoman Melanie Johnston.
Hospital staff learned about their recent travel by asking screening questions, as they do with all patients, and then followed up for more information, Johnston said.
Staff didn’t test the three people -- whose names, ages and genders weren’t given because of patient privacy rules -- for Ebola because it was determined they weren’t at risk, officials said.
“We followed the recommended (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines perfectly -- those are the guidelines all hospitals have been instructed to follow,” Johnston told the Herald.
Dr. Amy Person, health officer of the Benton-Franklin Health District, echoed that Lourdes followed protocol.
Staff contacted the health district as they carried out the screening process, Person said.
The world’s largest-ever Ebola outbreak has burned through West Africa since March. More than 8,900 cases have been reported in the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and more than 4,400 people have died.
No cases have been reported in East Africa.
In late September, the first U.S.-diagnosed case was confirmed. The patient -- a man who became symptomatic after arriving in the states from West Africa -- died last week.
Two nurses who cared for him at a Texas hospital since have become sick.
Ebola is spread from person to person through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids. It’s not airborne, and people are only contagious after they begin showing symptoms.
The Tri-Cities hasn’t seen a suspected Ebola case, but local health officials said they’re prepared for the possibility.
The local hospitals follow CDC protocols, have the proper protective gear and equipment, are staying on top of the latest information and keeping staff trained and informed, hospital officials said.
Johnston, from Lourdes, said that, “our training showed in how our staff behaved on Tuesday.”
Though the three people didn’t end up being at risk, the screening process worked, she said.
“It’s an indicator of how prepared our staff would be in case one did present,” she said. “Our staff would be prepared and would treat that patient appropriately.”
-- Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @saraTCHerald