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St. Clair Hospital Conducting Ebola Preparedness Drills

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Hospitals across the country are conducting drills to prepare for the possibility of a patient with Ebola-like symptoms.

One was recently held at St. Clair Hospital.

Not the typical patient you might expect at a community hospital emergency department, but the typical story of someone who might have Ebola.

"She was a young woman who presented recently from Nigeria that had been on a medical mission trip, and came in with a fever. She had vomiting, diarrhea, as well," says St. Clair Hospital emergency physician Dr. Jason Biggs. "It was instantly recognized by our intake person. Then, they were immediately put into an isolation room."

The emergency department personnel who tended to her wore personal protective equipment as they entered the room, specially equipped to have its air sucked out through a filter, with an adjacent area for decontamination and removing gear.

By protocol, calls immediately went to certain departments.

"We have a team within the hospital we contact, including infection control, that includes our hospital epidemiologist, that includes our administrators. They then contact a larger group of people. That would include the local authorities, and beyond that, would be the national authorities if it got to that point," said Dr. Biggs.

Each department immediately replied, he says, "Procedures are in place, we're responding, we're sending our representatives down."

Dr. Biggs was working in the ER and took care of the patient.

"As I finished my exam, that's when it was announced it was a test. So at that point we were all kind of able to relax a little bit," he said.

While they may never see an actual case of Ebola at St. Clair Hospital, in this drill, they handled the possibility as professionals.

"The only way to truly know how we would respond is to do a test with a patient that looked to be real," he says.

While it is unlikely for a case to show up here, it is possible, and everyone wants to be ready. So more test patients could be presenting, just to keep everyone on their toes.

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