Bassett Establishes Call In Line for Patients Possibly Exposed to Ebola

October 1, 2014

Bassett Healthcare Network has established a call in line for patients concerned that they may have been exposed to Ebola – that number is (607) 547-5555 or toll free (877) 547-1745. The number is a resource for patients who have traveled internationally or had close contact with someone who recently traveled internationally and was ill. Patients who fit this criteria and are feeling ill or who have questions about possible symptoms are asked to call the Ebola call in line at Bassett to be connected with a clinician trained to help them.

“The point of establishing this call in line is to help the patient and also control, as much as possible, potential contact with someone who may be infected with the Ebola virus,” explains Chief of Medicine Dr. Charles Hyman, an infectious disease specialist at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown. “Calls will be triaged by clinical staff trained to screen and advise the patient of next steps. The point is to reduce the risk that others will be needlessly exposed and get the individual the appropriate care at the appropriate facility as quickly as possible.”

Patients who call in will be asked such questions as:

  1. Have you traveled internationally, and if so where?
  2. Have you had close contact with someone who recently traveled internationally and was ill?
  3. Do you have a fever, cough, trouble breathing, rash, vomiting or diarrhea?

Depending on the answers to those questions, the patient will be directed to take the appropriate next steps.

Hyman says, “We want to provide care as effectively as possible and provide peace of mind to patients who meet the criteria and are worried. We are also hoping to avoid having patients who may have been exposed to Ebola showing up at various points within the Bassett Healthcare Network delivery system. In addition to delaying the identification of a possible case of the virus, the patient’s travel around the network could expose others who also then need to be identified and monitored.”
Bassett has also established an Ebola information page on its website www.bassett.org to update the public on the network’s preparedness efforts and provide the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Ebola Preparedness Team for the Bassett Healthcare Network has been meeting regularly to coordinate the network’s response, mobilize resources, and develop plans and review protocols to manage suspected cases in the event a patient presents at a network facility with possible symptoms of Ebola. Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Bertine McKenna, Ph.D., who leads the preparedness team along with Dr. Hyman, notes, “While an Ebola case is considered a low probability in the region Bassett serves, we owe it to our patients, our staff and the communities we serve to be as prepared as possible. That’s the work we’re engaged in right now.”

Both Hyman and McKenna note that there is heightened awareness of the Ebola virus because of the cases identified in the U.S. Those cases, however, resulted from health care workers returning home who had direct contact with victims of the outbreak in West Africa . Hyman cautions people against letting Ebola overshadow other health risks prevalent in the state right now, including the flu which leads to 30,000 deaths in this country annually. Anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated against influenza is encouraged to do so, and individuals sick with flu should stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.

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607-547-3456 : 1-800-BASSETT (227-7388)