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Friday, October 10, 2014

How Prepared is Kentucky for Ebola?

An Ebola strain. There has been one documented case of Ebola in the United States so far./Wikimedia

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers and Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine, representing the Republican Senate Majority Caucus, were briefed yesterday on the status of Kentucky’s readiness to deal with the Ebola virus.

Senator Stine called for the meeting last week.

During the meeting, Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield Gibson, M.D. outlined the current procedures that are in place. Commissioner Gibson said that many of the protocols were established when anthrax was a threat, and had been adjusted and honed to deal with any cases of Ebola.

According to Dick Bartlett, the Emergency Preparedness and Trauma Coordinator with the Kentucky Hospital Association, the Kentucky Department for Public Health’s (KDPH) Preparedness Branch has developed a complete package of Ebola Tabletop Exercise (TTX) materials to help hospitals, public health agencies, health care organizations, and coalitions with their Ebola preparedness planning.

This package includes:
  • situation manual
  • a PowerPoint presentation which helps guide the exercise
  • Exercise Evaluation Guides
  • After Action/Improvement Plan Guide
  • An agenda for conducting the exercise
and other clerical documents for conducting an Ebola situation drill.

President Stivers said Kentuckians were concerned about the virus, especially as news stories escalated, and he and other senators wanted to make sure they could communicate effectively and knowledgably with constituents if questioned.

Both Senators Stivers and Stine offered the assistance of the legislature, should it be needed.

“We continue to communicate, and update information daily,” Bartlett said. “Sharing information is crucial."

Since Stine called the meeting last week, the first person diagnosed with the Ebola virus on United States’ soil has died, screening for the virus has been implemented at five major U.S airports, and $750 million in federal funds has been approved to pay for the military mission to respond to the Ebola epidemic, which has so far included 60 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard as well as nearly 700 members of the 101st Division being trained for this deployment at Fort Campbell.

- Kentucky Legislative Research Commission

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