Seattle hospitals, staff prepare for possibility of Ebola

SEATTLE -- The head of Harborview Medical Center's Infection Control confirms that, for the past few months, doctors and staff have been creating a plan to handle Ebola patients should there be any cases in the Northwest.

"We wanted to be prepared if the patient shows up at our front desk, emergency room, or if they’re on our floors in the hospital," Dr. John Lynch said Wednesday. "With the right protocols, I think we can be prepared for this."

The first line of defense:  Ask every patient if they’ve traveled abroad. If they answer yes, doctors can determine if the patient should be moved to a room that is more isolated. Health care workers would also be required to wear more protective gear.

Harborview and UW Medical Center are now testing these new protocols.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, with Seattle - King County Public Health, says it would be his department's job to find the people who may have come in contact with an Ebola patient and to keep the disease from spreading.

Because Ebola is not an airborne disease and patients are not contagious until they show symptoms, such as fever or vomiting, doctors in the Northwest are confident they can contain Ebola if it shows up in the area.