Here's the thing about the ebola thing or anything similar to it: terrible diseases, chemical or biological warfare....there are many people within the medical community whose job it is to develop protocols about how all of this will be handled. They come on with detailed plans that are put away in disaster plan sections on computers. Its all really great...looks really good.
They are the people who buy a few of the latest in disaster materials: hazmat suits, tents to clean people off, etc. Its all really great. They even train people in hazmat. Its stored away somewhere in the hospital or other places.
They plan command centers with detailed algorithms and pictures of who is in control and those below them.
I have been an ER nurse for 25 years. In that time, I have been through maybe 2 or 3 fake disaster drills that nobody takes seriously. We have a cupboard that houses a orange binder which is about 6 inches think that contains all the plans. In that same cupboard are disaster triage tags. I think there are a few orange vests. As far as I know thats all we have for disaster supplies. Disaster plans are also on the computer. Hopefully in a disaster the computer will still function.
Apparently there are disaster carts that we can call for from somewhere. What is in them? Who knows. I don't know.
I have brought this up a couple of times about how we would handle disasters if one happened. Maybe my interest is because I was in the military in med evac. We were the people whoo evaced people from war zones. We trained to deal with chemical, biological warfare. So I think about this kind of stuff.
I think the people who are in charge like health departments, the CDC make a lot of assumptions that hospitals are ready. After all, they have developed the protocols, they gave them to the hospitals. They assume there are plans in place. They assume wrong. Sure the stuff is on the computer, but as far as the practical reality of dealing with a real disaster or something like ebola: nada.
So far my hospitals preparation for possible ebola patient is: Ask people if they have been out of the country in the last 3 weeks. Thats it. Beyond that, who knows? I imagine this is the case across the United States. I work in a big inner city ER with a diverse population. The hospital administrators believe the CDC and health officials that this couldn't possibly happen at their hospital. The thing is, Dallas Presbyterian thought it would never happen there either. But it did.
When the managers and administrators go home they are essentially telling us: Hey good luck with that possible ebola patient or any other disaster thing...