Urgent Care clinics prepare for Ebola

SHORELINE, Wash. -- These days, when we're feeling under the weather, a lot of us head to Urgent Care clinics instead of hospital emergency rooms.

And since Ebola symptoms can be similar to the flu or other viruses, staff at those clinics are bracing for the possibility that a patient could show up at their doors.

Jeremy Sjolseth, manager at Immediate Care in Shoreline, said, "There is a chance, if it does become a more widespread outbreak, which of course, we’re hoping does not occur, that a patient could present at our clinic."

Staff at those drop-in clinics can’t treat an Ebola patient but they are preparing for one. They are now equipped with cases full of protective gear, and cleaners. There are also plans to isolate any potential Ebola patient, call 911, and get them to the hospital.

It all starts with questions at the front desk.

"If they’ve had any travel within the last 21 days to West Africa or have come in contact with someone who’s been there, and show symptoms, then we have to take action," said Sjolseth.

Doctors and nurses at Urgent Care are putting their new protocols to the test, training again and again, just like staff at large hospitals around the northwest.

Crews with King County Medic One are showcasing what they say is the only unit of its kind in the country, specially designed to handle an Ebola patient.

"We took a medical unit, stripped everything out of the back of it, and then put in medical-grade lining in the back," said Aaron Tyerman, with King County Medic One. "It's impervious to bugs, everything, and it’s completely waterproof."

The county will use it to transport an Ebola patient if they fly into Sea-Tac.

Like staff at hospitals and clinics, crews are hoping they never have to use the specialized equipment and training, but they are confident they’re ready.

"We have a plan, we have a specialized vehicle, we have people that are specially trained to deal with this, and if it happens, we’ll come in and we’ll take care of it, and keep the community safe."