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Healthcare Officials Worried About Shortage Of Biohazard Suits For Ebola Caregivers

Ryan E. Poppe

Top doctors tell lawmakers that there would be no timeframe for Ebola patients being held in isolation at local hospitals, ahead of move to an Ebola-treatment facility.

Hospital officials are concerned that some medical facilities do not have an adequate supply of one-piece biohazard suits, which the CDC requires healthcare workers wear in order to treat patients showing signs of Ebola.  

Dr. Bryan Alsup is the Chief Medical Officer at San Antonio’s University Health System. He told members of the Texas House County Affairs Committee Monday, that there was no time frame for how long a suspected Ebola patient would be held in isolation at a local hospital, before the state would transfer them to one of Governor Perry’s Ebola Treatment Facilities.

“It is our expectation and I think it certainly would be the prudent thing based on the availability of beds, that those patients, if they need ongoing treatment, would be transferred to one of the high level bio-containment treatment facilities. Maybe not so much for the treatment, because there is none, it’s really supportive care, but really to prevent the secondary transmission of the disease,” said Alsup.

Lawmakers have been charged with looking out for any potential need for legislative action concerning Ebola at the county level, ahead of the 2015 session. The Texas Hospital Association Foundation CEO, Mitzi Ressmann, told committee members many hospitals were concerned about whether they had enough hazmat suits; while others cited flaws with the suits themselves.

The Committee’s co-chair, Houston Democratic Rep. Garnet Coleman, pointed to several deep budget cuts as a cause for the state’s initial response and efforts to contain the disease.