ALTOONA - If you go to your local hospital with fever,aches, and diarrhea, you may be asked if you've been in West Africa lately, to rule out the possibility that you could have ebola. In the unlikely chance that you have been exposed to the virus, you'll be taken to an airborne isolation room.
A sign outside an isolation room at UPMC Altoona, warns you to stop, for your own safety,before entering. If you do go inside, you're required to wear protective clothing, a mask and gloves.
The isolation room is equipped with negative pressure equipment which pulls air from the hallway into the room, and exhausts it outside the building. This keeps the air in the patient's room from escaping into the hospital and possibly infecting others.
Medical personnel follow very specific protocols around the patient. Infection Specialist Kim Hughes says, "most of our patients that are put into these type of rooms are just precautionary and they usually rule out for the actual disease anyway."
Hughes says the hospital has people in isolation rooms everyday. The reasons can range from suspicion of tuberculosis to MRSA. According to Hughes, all of the nurses and support personnel are trained and kept up to date on caring for patients in isolation.