Huffington Post- One of the biggest humanitarian tragedies in 2014 has been the Ebola epidemic, which to date has infected 17,942 people and killed 6,388. The epidemic continues in West Africa, and there is no doubt it will impact the governments, economies and people of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea for years to come. But while Ebola has affected the U.S. in a much smaller way, the handful of cases that arrived here may also have an enduring impact on the U.S. health care system.
When Ebola first came to the U.S., hospitals struggled to ready themselves for the threat. Indeed, a major part of the scramble to care for Ebola patients focused on compensating for a lack of training. But now, the formation of a regional network of hospitals ready to treat Ebola and other rare infectious diseases, as well as a growing awareness across the country that global health can and will affect residents of the U.S., signals a new readiness — and responsibility — to combat the disease and be on the lookout for future threats.
Early in December, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services helped several states identify and designate 35 hospitals around the nation that have elevated their standards for patient isolation, staff training and personal protective equipment to safely treat Ebola patients. The hospitals were clustered near the five international airports receiving travelers from West Africa, as well as in areas with large West African communities. (read more)