Northwestern Medicine

Chicago's Ebola Resource Network Hospitals Achieve National Treatment Center Designation

Northwestern Memorial Hospital December 02, 2014

Four Chicago hospitals among 35 across nation confirmed ready by CDC to treat potential Ebola patient

CHICAGO, IL – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and White House today announced that 35 hospitals across the U.S. have been nationally designated as Ebola treatment centers. The four Chicago hospitals that make up the Chicago Ebola Resource Network (ERN) - Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, University of Chicago Medical Center and Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago-are among those designated.

The four Chicago hospitals underwent assessments and intensive training with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and CDC officials on infection control, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by hospital staff and the safe removal of medical waste, among other activities. Chicago and New York City are the only local jurisdictions with four designated treatment centers.

“Chicago’s world-class hospitals have stepped up to the plate again helping ensure our city is prepared,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The fact that we have four treatment centers-including a children’s hospital-reflects our City’s hard work and ongoing leadership.”

The official designation of hospitals as Ebola treatment centers was made by City health officials and hospital administration officials after CDC experts conducted site visits to confirm the hospitals’ readiness to safely treat a confirmed Ebola patient for the full disease course. This included preparations to safeguard employees, care givers, other patients and visitors at the hospitals caring for a potential Ebola patient. 

Although the Chicago ERN is prepared to handle a confirmed case of Ebola, the majority of travelers to the U.S. from West Africa are at a low risk for developing the disease. Transmission of Ebola requires direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected individual; someone who is not showing symptoms cannot spread infection to others.

“While we are prepared for a case of Ebola, it is important to remember the risk to the general public is very low,” said CDPH Commissioner, Bechara Choucair, MD. “Regardless of the risk, we will continue to assess our plans to ensure that patients receive the best care possible and that the public and our healthcare providers are adequately protected.”

Furthermore, it is unlikely that an unexpected potential case of Ebola would present in an emergency room due to the active monitoring protocols put in place by CDC and managed locally by CDPH.

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