Hospitals Voluntarily Agree on Tiered Plan for Treating Ebola Patients in Virginia

Contact: Sean T. Connaughton
President and CEO | sconnaughton@www.vhha.com

RICHMOND – The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) Board of Directors today announced that it has agreed upon a tiered response for hospitals and health systems for treating suspected and confirmed Ebola cases in Virginia. The plan was developed by VHHA and coordinated with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). While no cases of Ebola have been found in Virginia, the plan announced today will ensure that Virginia’s hospitals and health systems are ready should this disease come to the Commonwealth.

Speaking about today’s announcement, John L. Fitzgerald, VHHA Chairman and CEO of Inova Fair Oaks Hospital, said, “Virginia’s hospitals and health systems are committed to providing the highest quality of care possible to their patients, including any cases of Ebola that may arise. The VHHA plan furthers that goal by establishing a clear, coordinated and concise strategy in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health for preparing for and treating Ebola patients. By designating specific facilities for treating Ebola patients and pooling resources, we can ensure that Virginia is as ready as possible if Ebola comes to our state.”

Pursuant to the VHHA plan, all hospitals in the Commonwealth will be prepared to screen, isolate and evaluate potential Ebola patients. If a case of Ebola is confirmed, the first recourse will be to determine if the patient can be transferred to a national bio-containment facility. If that option is not available, the patient will be sent to one of two designated Ebola treatment hospitals – UVA Medical Center or VCU Medical Center – on a rotating basis.

“VCU Health System takes seriously its obligations to treat any and all patients, including those who have contracted this potentially fatal disease. We have highly skilled and world-renowned infectious disease experts and some of the most advanced treatment facilities in the country. If an Ebola case appears in Virginia, we are ready to respond,”said John Duval, CEO of MCV Hospitals & Clinics, VCU Health System.

“The University of Virginia Medical Center is prepared to care for patients with this serious and potentially life-threatening disease. Our team of highly skilled physicians, nurses and staff stand ready to take a leading role in the care of patients with Ebola. This planbalances the public health needs of the Commonwealth while recognizing the specialized care available at the University of Virginia needed to combat this disease,”said Pamela Sutton-Wallace, CEO of the University of Virginia Medical Center.

If a bed is not available at UVA or VCU, the patient will be handled at a hospital with the capability to treat an Ebola patient at the system or regional level.

This Ebola hospital treatment plan builds on the federal Hospital Preparedness Program, which VHHA has administered since 2002 through a partnership with VDH. Other elements of the plan mutually agreed to by hospital and health system leaders include the following:

  • Due to the intense level of care necessary for treating Ebola patients, a pool of qualified medical personnel and staff to supplement staffing for non-Ebola patient care at the designated hospitals will be developed;
  • Expanded training and educational initiatives to ensure treatment facilities have adequate in-house medical staff to handle the workload associated with Ebola patients; and
  • Pooled equipment and other resources to support hospitals treating suspected or confirmed Ebola patients.

“Designating specific hospitals for the treatment of Ebola patients is a significant step in our preparedness efforts,” said VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “However, due to the high costs associated with treating Ebola patients, federal and state funding is essential to supporting the treatment of Ebola patients and the containment necessary to prevent the spread of the disease to the general public. The federal and state governments must be prepared to commit financial resources to support the preparation for, and treatment of, Ebola patients.”

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About VHHA
The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association is an alliance of 110 hospitals and 35 health delivery systems that develops and advocates for sound health care policy in the Commonwealth. Its vision is to achieve excellence in both health care and health.