Over 150 public health and healthcare professionals from across the nation, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Marshall Islands gathered at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Public Health from August 10 through 14 to learn about healthcare response to Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). The Ebola Assessment Hospital Course is specifically targeted toward preparing hospitals to receive, isolate, and care for a patient under investigation (PUI) for EVD. The course is coordinated through the Center for Preparedness Education within the UNMC College of Public Health’s Center for Biosecurity, Biopreparedness, and Emerging Infectious Diseases, and draws upon the expertise of the Nebraska Biocontainment Patient Care Unit personnel, including College of Public Health faculty, who deliver learning modules on topics such as Assessment Hospital Preparation, Patient Placement & Care, and Environmental Infection Control. A key benefit of the course, highlighted by participants, was the opportunity to openly discuss questions and concerns pertaining to EVD healthcare response. This, in conjunction with networking on best practices, often facilitates problem-solving efforts that may be unique to the participant’s location or facility.
“Participants were highly engaged and asking very detailed questions. Clearly, U.S. hospitals are putting a great deal of thought and effort into preparing for patients with Ebola or other highly infectious diseases. Participants gained insight from presenters with hands on experience treating patients with Ebola in a U.S. hospital” – The Nebraska Biocontainment Unit
The University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine began treating Ebola patients in September 2014 and has treated a total of three patients with confirmed Ebola diagnosis. They lead the National Ebola Training and Education Center with Bellevue Hospital Center and Emory University through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and will continue to provide training to hospitals across the nation over the next five years. The UNMC Biocontainment Unit, the largest facility of its kind in the U.S., was established in 2005 and has been training since its inception. The Center for Preparedness Education has been providing public health preparedness training since 2002 through Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) and Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) grants. They support the National Ebola Training and Education Center with community outreach and resources to strengthen public health preparedness efforts. UNMC College of Public Health faculty and staff also contributed to The Nebraska Ebola Method, courses developed for the general public and clinicians, available in English and Spanish.