The head of South Carolina’s health agency is urging hospitals to be ready to deal with Ebola and Catherine Templeton went undercover over the weekend to see if they are.
The Post and Courier of Charleston reported that Templeton, the director of South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, showed up at two Charleston hospitals Sunday night and said she was suffering from the flu.
At the Medical University of South Carolina a woman in financial services immediately asked if she had recently visited West Africa. At Roper Hospital, she waited in a waiting room with a mask and a doctor later asked the same question.
“I didn’t ask the hospitals for permission,” Templeton said. “I need to understand exactly how it works and where the vulnerabilities are that we didn’t think about. … You have to understand what really is going on to figure out where the holes are.”
When she was asked about her recent travel at MUSC, Templeton said she gave the woman a high five. “I said, ‘This is a drill! You’re awesome!'” Templeton recalled.
At Roper Hospital she was not asked about her travel by the staff at the reception desk, although she was asked by an emergency room doctor.
Wanda Brockmeyer, the director for emergency medicine at Roper St. Francis, told the newspaper the registration staff had not previously been instructed to ask about a patient’s travel history.
“We have met about that already this morning and that will be a policy going forward,” Brockmeyer said Monday. “It’s already put into place.”