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Latest Techniques Emphasized in Ebola Drill


Charlene Bugais, MS, RN, a clinical nurse specialist, (left) supervises as Sam Do, RN, (right) draws blood from a simulation dummy in a recent preparedness drill for treating patients with highly infectious diseases like Ebola.

After drawing blood, inserting an IV and placing a catheter into a patient, Sam Do, RN, and Isabel Fanelli, RN, carefully removed their hoods and suits. They ran their hands under an ultraviolet light looking for specs of a fine powder that mimics the spread of germs.

They were clean — no small feat after spending an hour in a room cloaked in the flecks.

The two volunteers were practicing medical procedures on a mannequin in a mock intensive care unit at the Women's Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills. It was part of the Special Pathogen Response Team's quarterly training to help Cedars-Sinai serve as a federally designated regional treatment center for Ebola and other highly infectious diseases.

In the event of an outbreak, the doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists will play a critical role in bolstering the country's front-line defense against highly communicable diseases.

"Once trained, that knowledge is the ultimate personal protective equipment," said Flora Haus, MSN, RN, an education program coordinator with the Geri and Richard Brawerman Nursing Institute. She and Charlene Bugais, MS, RN, a clinical nurse specialist, managed the volunteers through the lesson.

"We're tremendously proud of our volunteer team, and we take feedback from them very seriously," said Jonathan Grein, MD, medical director of the Department of Hospital Epidemiology and infection control officer. "The protocols we develop are constantly evolving based on lessons learned at other regional centers, and our volunteers' input is really critical. We need our healthcare workers to feel safe."

In addition to brushing up on basic skills, the group reviewed the latest techniques for treating potential patients. Volunteers practiced using protective disposable sheets and wiping down surfaces when drawing blood in order to prevent splashing and spreading germs. They also worked on speaking slowly and clearly to each other, a critical task when wearing full hoods and noisy air-cleansing machines.

Another focus was learning how to help quarantined patients who might not feel a human hand for weeks cope with loneliness. Simple steps can mitigate feelings of isolation. Healthcare workers who write their names on their suits and share photos and short bios with the patient can help, as can having patients display pictures of their own families and friends.

Fanelli and her epidemiology colleagues — including volunteer Sylvia Cumplido, MSN, RN, who also participated in the training — are helping develop a process for putting on and taking off the protective gear. But it was her first time wearing it for hours.

"It was helpful to see how I actually felt being in the suit and to learn from that experience," Fanelli said.

The response team is still recruiting nurses, physicians and respiratory therapists. Anyone interested can contact Nursing Director Joanne Laguna, RN, at joanne.laguna@cshs.org or 310-423-2037 or Grein at jonathan.grein@cshs.org or 310-423-5574.