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Md. Hospitals Bracing For Local Ebola Cases, Retraining Staff

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- While officials in Texas scramble to get a handle on the latest case of Ebola, there, hospitals in Maryland are bracing and preparing in case someone with Ebola walks into a local emergency room.

Derek Valcourt explains how state and local officials are learning lessons from what's happening in Texas.

What's happening in Texas is a sharp reminder that doctors and nurses need to be ready for this because if something goes wrong it's their lives at risk in addition to the patient.

When Maryland hospitals dealt with the unexpected H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009, many revised protocols to help keep the illness from spreading inside their doors.

Now some including Sinai Hospital are expanding on those measures as they prepare to deal with a much more deadly virus in Ebola.

"We've already strategized what rooms would be the appropriate rooms for instance if we had an Ebola patient come in and we're making sure we have enough equipment stocked up for all the different areas," Dr. John Cmar, of Sinai's infectious disease department, said.

Dr. Cmar spent hours Monday morning in Ebola meetings.

Priority number one is making sure hospital staff are trainer to properly identify potential Ebola patients.

As they try to avoid scenarios like what happened to Thomas Eric Duncan who was reportedly sent home from a Texas hospital by a nurse despite question about his recent travel to Liberia.

Local hospitals say they've preparing to isolate and treat patients if needed .

Another top priority making sure staff receives proper training since many health care workers have been infected despite wearing protective gear.

"Trained in knowing what the right thing is to put on to protect themselves and the appropriate way to take it off so that they are minimizing the risk of infecting themselves accidentally," Cmar said.

Doctors say it's important to remember Ebola only spreads through contact with infected body fluids including sweat, saliva and blood.

Ambulance drivers and paramedics are also training on how to protect themselves since it is widely expected that they could be among some of the first medical personnel to come in contact with infected patients.

State health officials say they've been working to make sure all Maryland hospitals are prepared in the event of an Ebola patients.

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