Sanford USD Medical Center
SD’s Designated Ebola Hospital
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, November 21, 2014
CONTACT: Barb Buhler, Department of Health, (605) 773-3361
Stacy Jones, Sanford Health, (605) 366-2432
Sanford USD Medical Center SD’s Designated Ebola Hospital
PIERRE, S.D. – The Department of Health announced today that Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls will serve as the state’s designated facility to receive and potentially treat a suspect Ebola patient.
“In a state the size of South Dakota, it makes sense to designate a single facility to be ready to care for an Ebola patient,” said Doneen Hollingsworth, Secretary of Health. “We’re very appreciative that Sanford has volunteered to fill that critical role and they should be commended for their leadership."
“Sanford USD Medical Center, along with the entire Sanford Health system, began preparing to handle a potential Ebola patient months ago, and we are confident in our preparations and expertise,” said Paul Hanson, president of Sanford USD Medical Center. “Our efforts are led by highly trained physicians including Wendell Hoffman, MD and Allison Suttle, MD. Our skilled health care providers will safely manage any potential Ebola patient in accordance with CDC protocols to ensure we are protecting our staff and other patients while caring for an individual in need."
Hollingsworth said designation of Sanford USD Medical Center as an Ebola treatment facility is just one of many steps in a much larger effort to prepare for the possibility of the disease in South Dakota. The first component of that response is the front line health care providers – every hospital and clinic across the state.
“Every clinic and hospital in the state needs to be prepared to identify a possible case based on travel history and symptoms, appropriately isolate the individual and contact the state Department of Health for further evaluation,” said Hollingsworth. “We know providers are taking this responsibility seriously and working hard to prepare and drill for how to handle such patients."
For any such individual, the department will consult with CDC. If the individual is determined to be a potential case, the department will contact Sanford so it can prepare to receive the individual. Two ambulance services, Rural Metro in Sioux Falls and Rapid City Fire in Rapid City, have received specialized training and equipment from the department and agreed to transport patients to Sanford.
Hollingsworth said the department’s public health laboratory is also working to add the capability to test for Ebola. In the meantime, it has an agreement in place with the University of Nebraska Medical Center to handle testing.
The department also continues to monitor travelers coming into South Dakota from the West African countries at the center of the outbreak. That monitoring includes twice-daily contact with the individuals for the 21-day incubation period of the disease to check temperatures and any symptoms. The department is currently monitoring one such low-risk individual and two more have completed their 21-day monitoring period without developing symptoms.
“From front line health care facilities to patient transport, from designating a receiving hospital to setting up a lab testing protocol, South Dakota is working hard to put a system in place to deal with Ebola,” said Hollingsworth. “Even if we never have an Ebola case these partnerships and the work we’ve done will leave us better prepared to deal with other infectious diseases in our state."
For more information about Ebola virus disease see the department’s website at http://doh.sd.gov/diseases/ebola.aspx.