Local nurses concerned about Ebola after Dallas nurse contracts virus

SEATTLE -- Nurses at Harborview Medical Center would be on the front line if an Ebola victim were sent here for treatment.

“We all have concerns as human beings; that is the way it should be,” Harborview nurse Gail Stewart said Monday.

Hospitals are keeping a close eye on the details coming out of Texas. A nurse caring for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan now has the virus, too.

Dr. Brad Younggren oversees the emergency room at Evergreen Health Medical Center in Kirkland. He says an Ebola patient would be brought in through a separate entrance, then wheeled into an isolation room that is pressure-locked.

All the isolation rooms are connected to a special room where doctors and nurses can put on their protective gear.

“We have a mask with a face shield on, double gloves with long extended cuffs,” Younggren said.

Covered head to toe, the medical personnel follow a specific order when taking off the protective gear.

“I would take the outer glove that could be potentially contaminated,” Younggren said.

There is a buddy system so they don’t forget a step.

“Most health care providers have never even dealt with Ebola. Everyone is a little concerned about making sure we do things right in regards to taking off and on protective gear,” Younggren said.

Lab techs are also following strict guidelines. In Shoreline, there is a special lab that can test for Ebola in just one day. Doctors here also wear protective gear recommended by the CDC.

Health officials are comfortable with the current CDC rules but if the Ebola virus evolves so will their procedures.

“I think we need to be asking questions we need to learn from what is going on in the country,” Stewart said.

Harborview has 20 isolation rooms for Ebola cases. They have a message for the public. If you have traveled to West Africa or had direct contact with someone from that area and have flu-like symptoms, call ahead before rushing to the ER.