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Congressmembers Briefed About Philadelphia Area's Readiness For Ebola

By Hadas Kuznits

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Congressional representatives were briefed today about how local health care professionals would deal with an Ebola outbreak here.

"We were comforted that not only are they trained and are they well-prepared, every single health care institution represented in the room said that they can handle a patient who has this disease," noted US representative Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), one of several local congressmembers who attended the briefing at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Still, he notes, some questions remain.

"What we heard is that every single hospital is prepared to take a patient.  What we don't know is if a patient were to present themselves here  -- and none has -- whether that patient would be treated long-term here, or whether that patient would be transferred."

Fattah says some local health care professionals have gone to Ebola-affected regions of Africa to help stop the spread of the disease there.   He also says some have worked educating servicemembers being deployed to West Africa to build health care centers about how to protect themselves.

"The best way to stop it from coming here is to help quell the outbreak in Africa."

He says that in our area, one of the biggest concerns is getting out correct information about Ebola:

"Because the other thing we don't want is, if there was a patient at one of our hospitals, we don't want a situation where the rest of the public feels as though they can't use that hospital."

As for concerns about air travel, Fattah says, "We have set up a national protocol that anyone traveling from the affected region has to go into five designated airports.  Philadelphia International is not one of them."

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