The director of South Carolina’s public health agency said the state needs a way to send an immediate alert to a variety of agencies if a case of Ebola is found.
Department of Health and Environmental Control director Catherine Templeton told the Associated Press that she wants to ensure health care providers, as well as first responders and coroners, are all informed quickly if any suspected cases are identified in the state.
Templeton, who is scheduled to testify before the state Senate Medical Affairs Committee on Thursday, said hospitals are being told that they do not necessarily need to set up special isolation wards if Ebola is found in the state. But she said they do need to know, in advance, how to contain it. For example, she said hazmat suits are not necessary, but gloves, masks, and private rooms are.
Templeton is asking state lawmakers to help her agency gain the permission it needs to push that information out. Right now, health care providers and hospitals can sign up for voluntary notifications, but it is not mandatory.
The issue of Ebola containments has flared up in the United States after a Liberian resident was diagnosed with the virus shortly after arriving home in Texas. Hospital officials there said Wednesday that Thomas Duncan had died. Templeton said knowing how to spot Ebola, safely contain it, and then contact state health officials can keep it from spreading.
South Carolina Hospitals Association president Thornton Kirby is also scheduled to testify before the Senate committee on Thursday.