Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Message from Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober on Ebola Virus Precautions and Preparedness at Memorial Regional Hospital-Hollywood, @mhshospital; It's time for #HallandaleBeach residents to let City Hall know they want changes to existing emergency transportation policy re Aventura Hospital vs. Memorial Regional Hospital

Looking northwest from N. Johnson & N. 35th Avenue in Hollywood, FL at part of the main campus of Memorial Regional Hospital, the flagship facility of Memorial Healthcare System's far-flung Broward healthcare empire. November 1, 2011 photo by South Beach Hoosier.

My comments are below yesterday's email that I received from Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober.
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Dear Hollywood Residents:

Like most of you, I’ve been watching with great interest recent news reports about the outbreak of the Ebola virus.  As Mayor, it is therefore appropriate to advise Hollywood residents what is being done locally to monitor the Ebola virus as well as coordinate a preparedness plan.  To be clear, there have been no cases of Ebola reported in South Florida, to date.

I wanted you to know the steps the City of Hollywood and our regional partners take whenever there is concern regarding the spread of an infectious disease like Ebola.  The Florida Department of Health, in partnership with local hospitals and healthcare facilities, medical officials, fire/rescue, police and emergency management agencies, has implemented preparedness plans to respond to the situation and take a series of precautionary measures.

Every Florida hospital has been requested to mandate all healthcare professionals undergo Ebola protection training.  Local hospitals, such as Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, have implemented the following protocols to protect personnel from exposure to Ebola and other infectious diseases:

If someone walks into a hospital and has symptoms consistent with Ebola, hospital staff will quarantine the patient, wear protective gear to protect themselves from possible exposure, and begin treating the symptoms.
Hospital staff use a “buddy system” while putting on and removing protective gear to ensure medical personnel wear and remove protective gear properly.

If someone calls 911 to report a possible infection:
The 911 dispatcher asks the caller about his/her symptoms and whether he/she has traveled to West Africa within the last 2-21 days and/or has come into contact with someone who is infected with Ebola. 
When Fire/Rescue is dispatched to the caller’s address, firefighter/paramedics wear protective gear, such as gloves and masks, while examining the patient. 
Fire/Rescue notifies the hospital of a possible Ebola infection.  The hospital will then prepare an isolated room to treat the patient.
After transporting an infected patient, Fire Rescue crews will quarantine and disinfect the rescue unit used to transport the patient to the hospital. 

Other precautions by the City of Hollywood include:
Hollywood Police Officers use protective gloves and masks while handling individuals who are suspected of having any infectious disease.  The department has a service to disinfect police vehicles after transporting individuals suspected of having an infectious disease.
Hollywood Emergency Management is monitoring the Ebola outbreak, receiving daily updates from the Florida Department of Health, Broward County Emergency Management, local hospitals and regional law enforcement agencies, and providing status updates.

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions related to the Ebola outbreak:

What is Ebola?
Ebola is an animal-borne virus that was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa.  Previously called Ebola hemorrhagic fever, outbreaks occur sporadically in Africa.  Human death rates for Ebola range from 50 percent to 90 percent. 

How does Ebola spread?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Ebola virus is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes) with:

A sick person’s blood or bodily fluids, including but not  limited to urine, saliva, feces, vomit, and semen.
Contaminated objects (like needles and syringes). 
African bats and primates (by contact with their blood, fluids,  or infected meat).
The virus is not an airborne virus.  Signs of Ebola include fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F) and symptoms such as: 

Severe headache Diarrhea
Muscle pain Abdominal pain
Vomiting Unexplained hemorrhaging

The time between exposure to the Ebola virus and the first sign of symptoms is two to 21 days, though the average time is eight to 10 days.  A person infected with the Ebola virus is not contagious until symptoms appear.

What should I do if I suspect someone might have Ebola?
If you know or encounter anyone who meets these criteria, please avoid contact with the individual, call 911, and ensure that he/she is treated at a local hospital immediately. 

Is Ebola treatable?
Early recognition is important to treating and preventing the spread of Ebola.  There is no vaccine for Ebola.  However, symptoms of Ebola are treated as they appear: 

Providing intravenous fluids and balancing electrolytes (body salts). 
Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure. 
Treating other infections if they occur. 

Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are under development, but have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.

How are people screened for Ebola?
Current Ebola screening procedures include:

Checking for the symptoms described above AND whether an individual suffering from symptoms has traveled to West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone or other countries where Ebola virus transmission has been reported) or the Democratic Republic of Congo within 21 days (3 weeks) of symptom onset. 
Screening an individual who exhibits the symptoms described above, and who has been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with Ebola.

In conclusion, the Ebola virus is a serious issue, and it demands serious attention at all levels of government.  Please know that City Hall is closely monitoring this issue, as well as the global events surrounding it, which unfold daily.  Additional information can be obtained through the Florida Department of Health-Broward County at 954.467.4700, and I will work to ensure that City Hall informs you about any additional preparations occurring at the local level as such information becomes available.  In the interim, the City of Hollywood will continue to implement all recommended protective and preventive measures.  Wishing you and your family all the best, I hope you continue to stay informed about this important public safety issue. 

Sincerely,

Mayor Peter Bober

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Like many of you, I've had unpleasant personal/family experiences over at Aventura Hospital over the recent past -in my case, several- that cause me to have great misgivings about ever suggesting to anyone that they go there instead of to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood.
Even if it's physically closer, even if it's for something relatively minor.


My own experiences at Memorial have been uniformily very good-to-excellent and the differences in how you are treated as a patient or a family member by the staff -and the process itself- are literally night-and-day.
http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/my-life-of-late-another-brush-with-good.html

I never wrote about how truly bad things were at Aventura Hospital and the many, many upsetting things my late father and I dealt with there with respect to the level of care he received, the apathy/attitudes of many hospital employees I dealt with and their bureaucratic process. 

To say nothing of the days he was basically held hostage there on a visit for some tests that should have taken no more than 3-4 hours.
After my father died -elsewhere- I've often regretted letting that slide and NOT taking them to task, as they were/are the very picture of  target-rich environment.
Though I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt at the beginning after all the negatives I'd heard from area residents and neighbors after returning to South Florida, I came to learn the hard way that the hospital's bad rep was, indeed, EARNED.

I mention this because this timely email from Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober yesterday morning makes me wonder how much longer Hallandale Beach-area residents must tolerate City of Hallandale Beach Fire/EMT personnel continuing to (usually) disregard people's stated desire to be transported to Memorial instead of Aventura when they call for an ambulance.

It seems to me like some time after November's election would be a good time for Hallandale Beach residents and business owners to let their new City Commission know that they want to seriously re-examine that existing transportation policy, since more than a few of you have told me that you've left specific -or even written- instructions with family members and friends that you do NOT want to ever be transported to Aventura Hospital -under any circumstances.

Trust me, for all the wrong reasons, I know exactly what you mean.

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