- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California public health officials said Wednesday that they are reviewing emergency response plans should Ebola makes its way into the state.

Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health and the state health officer, said the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown has put together a team to monitor the situation after two Texas nurses tested positive for the virus while caring for an Ebola patient.

“It would not be unexpected for California to eventually have a confirmed case of Ebola, and therefore we must be prepared to respond promptly and carefully,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist with the health department.

Officials said California is trying to determine whether certain hospitals should be designated to treat Ebola patients. California also is asking the federal government to consider adding screenings at its international airports.

California currently has no Ebola cases or suspect cases. It has tested two patients, one in Sacramento County and one in Los Angeles County. Results were negative for both.

Also Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer sent a letter to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden urging him to help hospitals prepare for the threat of Ebola.

“While there has been important work done to get hospitals prepared, it is clear that there is more we can and must do to ensure that every facility and every health care worker is fully trained and ready to meet this threat,” Boxer wrote.

She included a response from the California Hospital Association, which surveyed its members on hospital preparedness and training.

The hospitals said that while most facilities have sufficient information from the federal government, one-third of members have had trouble implementing guidelines due to conflicting instructions between federal, state and local agencies, a strain on resources and high costs.

Just 40 percent of responding hospitals have communicated procedures and completed training for their entire staff.

“These problems demand expedited solutions,” wrote C. Duane Dauner, president of the hospital association.

Many nurses say they have not been briefed on how their hospitals will respond should a patient turn up with the virus. They want hands-on training for putting on and taking off protective gowns, gloves and equipment, handling contaminated material and making sure facilities have adequate supplies.

“The nurses are not afraid to take care of Ebola patients, but what we are afraid of is the fact that we’re not ready due to lack of equipment and lack of education,” said Zenei Corez, a nurse for 35 years who works at Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco Medical Center and vice president of National Nurses United. “It’s really alarming that they would say they are prepared or well-equipped when, in reality, they are not.”

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