UTHealth’s safety expert Dr. Robert Emery has been one of several individuals leading efforts to reinforce the training of UTHealth clinical staff as well as students regarding protective equipment worn and techniques used when handling patients with infectious diseases, such as Ebola. Dr. Emery is a professor of Occupational Health at The University of Texas School of Public Health and also UTHealth vice president for Safety, Health, Environment, and Risk Management. The School of Public Health is part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).
[Photo: Dr. Robert Emery]
UTHealth has distributed personal protective equipment (PPE) to more than 80 clinics and held a training session last week during which clinical employees viewed a demonstration how to wear and use the PPE. While practicing the procedures, staff and students had the opportunity to be sprinkled with a powder that can mimic a contaminant and is only visible under an ultraviolet light. After removing equipment, the person practicing the sequence can check to see if the powder has spread to their body or clothes. Emery has visited UTHealth School of Public Health classrooms to share PPE procedures and information. Students have been instructed on procedures for removal, decontamination, and disposal of Ebola-patient related material.
In classroom discussions, Dr. Emery has covered identification of a suspected Ebola patient’s symptoms, transportation, clinic procedures, and numerous questions from students. Emery described the issues related to biomedical waste disposal, as reports indicated that as many as 40 boxes of waste are generated each day an Ebola patient is cared for. He also said that health care facilities around the country have been freely sharing their experiences and procedures among one another to help lower the risk of spreading infection by engineering out the PPE.
This week, the CDC confirmed that a second health care work worker in a Dallas hospital has contracted the virus.
Local TV news also covered one of the training sessions at UTHealth: http://abc13.com/news/houston-hospitals-practice-drills-for-ebola/343900/