Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
An ambulance arrives with Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly, right, to Emory University Hospital, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, in Atlanta. Brantly, infected with the Ebola virus in Africa arrived in Atlanta for treatment Saturday, landing in a specially equipped plane at a military base, then being whisked away to one of the most sophisticated hospital isolation units in the country, officials say. (AP Photo/WSB-TV Atlanta) METRO ATLANTA TV OUT
Atlanta hospital deemed 1 of safest for Ebola care
First Published Aug 03 2014 10:16 am • Last Updated Aug 03 2014 10:16 am

Atlanta • The Ebola virus has killed more than 700 people in Africa and could have catastrophic consequences if allowed to spread, world health officials say. So why would anyone allow infected Americans to come to Atlanta?

The answer, experts say, is because Emory University Hospital is one of the safest places in the world to treat someone with Ebola. There’s virtually no chance the virus can spread from the hospital’s super-secure isolation unit.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

And another thing, they say: medical workers risking their lives overseas deserve the best treatment they can get.

Dr. Kent Brantly became the first person infected with Ebola to be brought to the United States from Africa. He arrived Saturday at one of the nation’s best hospitals. Fellow aid worker Nancy Writebol was expected to arrive in several days.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told NBC on Sunday that Brantly’s condition seems to have improved and that it was encouraging to see Brantly walk out of the ambulance unassisted when he arrived at the hospital.

Frieden said he understands the public’s concerns about Ebola, and the public health role is to ensure that the infection is not spread.

"Ebola is very deadly. And it’s normal to be scared of deadly diseases," he said.

Few of those nearest the hospital Saturday seemed concerned.

"I just think it’s a blessing that we can help possibly make the infected person’s life a little more tolerable," said Ashley Wheeler, who was shopping just down the street on Saturday. "If I were that person I would want my country to help me the best way they could."

Emory’s infectious diseases’ unit was created 12 years ago to handle doctors who get sick at the CDC. It is one of about four in the country equipped with everything necessary to test, treat and contain people exposed to very dangerous viruses.


story continues below
story continues below

In 2005, it handled patients with SARS, which unlike Ebola can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

In fact, the nature of Ebola — which is spread by close contact with bodily fluids and blood — means that any modern hospital using standard, rigorous, infection-control measures should be able to handle it.

Still, Emory won’t be taking any chances.

"Nothing comes out of this unit until it is non-infectious," said Dr. Bruce Ribner, who will be treating the patients. "The bottom line is: We have an inordinate amount of safety associated with the care of this patient. And we do not believe that any health care worker, any other patient or any visitor to our facility is in any way at risk of acquiring this infection."

Ribner also said the patients deserve help.

"They have gone over on a humanitarian mission, they have become infected through medical care and we feel that we have the environment and expertise to safely care for these patients and offer them the maximum opportunity for recovery from these infections," he said Friday.

Amber Brantly was heartened to see her husband climb out of the ambulance that met his plane at Dobbins Air Reserve Base outside Atlanta. He climbed out dressed head to toe in white protective clothing, and another person in an identical hazardous materials suit held both of his gloved hands as they walked gingerly inside.

"It was a relief to welcome Kent home today. I spoke with him, and he is glad to be back in the U.S.," she said in a statement. "I am thankful to God for his safe transport and for giving him the strength to walk into the hospital."

Inside the unit, patients are sealed off from anyone who doesn’t wear protective gear.

"Negative air pressure" means air flows in, but can’t escape until filters scrub any germs from patients. All laboratory testing is conducted within the unit, and workers are highly trained in infection control. Glass walls enable staff outside to safely observe patients, and there’s a vestibule where workers suit up before entering. Any gear is safely disposed of or decontaminated.

Family members will be kept at a distance for now, the doctors said. The unit "has a plate glass window and communication system, so they’ll be as close as 1-2 inches from each other," Ribner said.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.