California health officials during an Assembly health committee hearing said the state is prepared to respond to an Ebola case, the Elk Grove Citizen reports (Gold, Elk Grove Citizen, 11/25).
Earlier this month, the California Department of Public Health and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued new requirements for hospitals to provide Ebola protections to staff.
The new guidelines — which went into effect immediately — came after 18,000 Kaiser Permanente nurses held a two-day strike in part to protest a lack of adequate equipment and training standards for treating patients with Ebola.
The new Ebola-related rules are the first to be issued in the U.S. and go beyond federal standards for Ebola preparedness. They are based on existing standards for infectious disease preparedness.
Under the new guidelines, hospitals in the state are required to provide full-body protective suits that meet the American Society for Testing and Materials’ standards, as well as other new rules.
Hospitals that do not comply with the new rules could face civil penalties (California Healthline, 11/17).
Details of Hearing
Several state health officials spoke at the hearing, including:
- California Department of Public Health Director Ron Chapman;
- Cheri Hummel, vice president of disaster preparedness for the California Hospital Association;
- Solano County Health Officer Bela Matyas; and
- State Epidemiologist and California CDC Chief Gil Chavez.
Assembly Committee on Health Chair Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) said there have been no confirmed Ebola cases in California.
Pan said the hearing was held “because infectious diseases are a significant threat to public safety.” He added, “Given the spread of Ebola in West Africa and world travel, we should not be surprised that if sometime in the near-future a person in California is suspected of Ebola.”
During the hearing, Chapman said that no California airports are designated to receive travelers from countries with Ebola outbreaks.
However, if a traveler from an Ebola-affected country were to arrive in California, Chavez said that officials would be “notified with full contact information including the flight information before they arrive in California, so we could escort them home.”
Meanwhile, Chapman also noted that all five University of California hospitals are prepared to handle Ebola patients. He said staff members at those facilities have been trained by CDC officials on Ebola preparedness (Gold, Elk Grove Citizen, 11/25).