Surrey Memorial designated as hub for any local Ebola patients

SURREY — Fraser Health Authority has dubbed Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) as the go-to place for patients showing symptoms of the Ebola virus.

“Patients can present at any emergency department, but if after the patient is assessed by the triage nurse and physician, and it’s determined there’s a real possibility the patient has the virus, arrangements would be made to transfer them to the Surrey site,” said Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin, the authority’s executive medical director for infection control.

She said SMH was an easy choice because of its brand new eight-storey critical care tower.

“The tower has state-of-the-art infection control capacity, a lab and highly-experienced staff. These are people who have dealt with H1N1 and SARS,” she said. “They know how to manage disease safely.”

Even though no Ebola virus cases have been reported in North America, Brodkin said it’s better to be proactive than reactive.

“We don’t expect to see a case in the Fraser Health region, but it’s about being prepared so that if something does happen, everyone knows what to do.”

She added doctors may come across patients who are “suspect”, meaning they’ve been to other parts of the world where the epidemic is rampant, and may carry symptoms.

According to the World Health Organization, the death toll from Ebola virus in West Africa has topped 2,600, with at least 5,357 people infected.

Surrey Memorial’s emergency department saw 117,000 visits in 2013, over 17 per cent more than 2012.

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