PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – As the nation grapples with Ebola, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania teamed up with doctors and specialists from UPMC Presbyterian Hospital Friday morning to discuss how prepared we are.
They’re also pushing more funding for hospitals.
Sen. Casey arrived at UPMC to hear about equipment and procedure should UPMC be called upon to deal with Ebola.
“We have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment to ensure that we can care for the patients that might present here, and you’re right, the threat is very, very low here in western Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Don Yealy, of UPMC Emergency Medicine.
But as he spoke the White House announced attorney Ron Klain has been appointed Ebola Czar. Klain is not a doctor, but has experience in Washington.
“I think it’s more of a quarterback who can make sure all the pieces are fitting together as opposed to someone who has particular subject matter expertise,” said Sen. Casey.
He’s also here at a time when Republicans in Congress are calling for a travel ban from West Africa to the United States.
Others worry such a ban might cause travelers to circumvent the system and provide false information.
But Sen. Casey wants more input from health experts.
“If the medical professionals and the other experts can tell us that a travel ban will make the American people safer, I’m for it,” he said. “If they can tell us that it will help us deal with this threat then I’ll support it, but I need to see the medical testimony the medical evidence that will be constructive.”
Dr. Carlene Muto, Medical Director of Infection Control at UPMC Shadyside, says UPMC has also developed an Ebola executive committee that would be alerted and would coordinate care.
One of the problems in Dallas, she says, is that an alarm like that was never sounded.
We at UPMC have developed an Ebola executive committee so that once that screening hits, there’s a call made to one of us and we mobilize our team and we quickly figure out, is this something that we need to worry about, should we go to the next level of concern,” said Dr. Muto. “And we make sure all the right things are done.
Preparations also happening at Children’s Hospital.
“At Children’s, we’ve had screening in place now for more than a month,” said Dr. Michael Green, the Medical Director of Infection Control. “And so we’ve been effectively evaluating children that come to our institution in our emergency department asking the questions that are so common on the news now, ‘Did you have an exposure to travel or someone who traveled who was sick?’, etc.”
On Thursday, the Ebola outbreak was the topic of a hearing in Washington.
Congressman Tim Murphy called members of his House Oversight Committee back from their recess to talk about the crisis.
Murphy says mistakes have been made and grilled the head of the CDC over why there isn’t a travel ban.
Gov. Tom Corbett also announced Friday that three Pennsylvanians who were on a flight from Cleveland to Dallas with a nurse who tested positive for Ebola are being monitored in Texas and haven’t been back home since the Monday trip.
Corbett said Friday that the three people aren’t showing symptoms of Ebola and aren’t being quarantined.