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Emanuel Holds Ebola Summit

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 17, 2014 8:30PM

Photo credit: 2014 City of Chicago/Brook Collins

While fears of the spread of Ebola virus in the United States continue to grow (thanks in part to media reports), Mayor Rahm Emanuel worked Friday to assuage any concerns Chicago would not become Dallas anytime soon.

Emanuel convened Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair; police, fire, aviation and emergency management and communication commissioners; and high ranking officials from local hospitals in a public show of force to indicate how serious Emanuel is taking the Ebola concerns. Furthermore, Emanuel promised weekly meetings to discuss the city’s emergency preparedness.

The summit was a response to alleviate any fears regarding federal response to the events that happened in Dallas, in addition to the two cases of Ebola discovered in the Texas city and what the city can learn from it.

“What happened in Dallas, what happened in Spain — is there any takeaway? Any lessons to be learned? I want to make sure we have a plan in place, we have training across all the hospitals, all the clinics, all the public entities to make sure that we also have an internal communication, let alone an external communication to know what we’re doing, how to do it, and who to go to so you’re not making it up on the run.”

Emanuel said the city is using the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in developing a preparedness plan requiring uniform training among health care professionals and communication both internally and to the public. On Thursday, 300 employees at Rush University Medical Center received training on precautionary and preventive measures they should take if they have to treat a suspected Ebola patient and prevent being infected. Union representatives for nurses across the country called for more than just general preventive measures to prevent an Ebola outbreak. Jan Rodolfo, a registered nurse and Midwest director of National Nurses United, said the virus’ high mortality rate makes it “a very different situation than the flu or (antibiotic)-resistant staph infections.”

O’Hare International Airport is one of four airports nationwide screening passengers arriving from West African-originated flights for signs on Ebola.