A patient who arrived at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center’s emergency department Friday night had a fever and flulike symptoms, and was worried she had Ebola.
She might have shaken hands with someone who might have been from Sierra Leone three weeks earlier at an out-of-town conference that had international delegates, she said.
The emergency room doctor checked with the Spokane Regional Health District on Ebola protocols and ordered tests. The district’s epidemiologist deemed it a “no-risk” situation, with no isolation and no additional infectious disease controls needed. The patient didn’t meet the criteria for the Ebola test and was eventually discharged.
The hospital shut down the emergency department for less than half an hour Friday night, spokesman Joe Robb said. That happens occasionally, and the hospital doesn’t comment on why when it does, he said.
The hospital screens patients constantly for Ebola and has yet to have anyone fail a screening. But it’s important to carefully review all suspected cases to allay any fears in the community, said Jeff Collins, chief physician executive of Providence Health Care.
Kim Papich, of the Spokane Regional Health District, said everyone did the right thing in this situation, even though there is a very low risk of catching the disease from shaking hands. It’s mainly transmitted by coming into contact with an infected person’s blood, vomit or feces.
“This is the nature of the kinds of things that are starting to pop up,” Papich said.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.