Health officials Tuesday named 35 U.S. hospitals that can accept future Ebola patients.
State health officials worked with hospital leaders to select the hospitals, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) infection control teams assessed each facility's preparedness in terms of staff, training, resources and equipment, a senior White House official told the Washington Post.
Establishing a network of hospitals prepared to accept Ebola patients has been difficult due to hospitals' concerns over the potential stigma among other patients."This is a big step forward in terms of domestic preparedness in terms of any Ebola cases that might arrive here," the official said, and the chosen hospitals are within 200 miles of where the vast majority of travelers returning to the United States will end up.
Of the hospitals, nearly 24 are within close range of John F. Kennedy Airport in New York; Newark Liberty in New Jersey; Washington Dulles; O'Hare in Chicago; and Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta. Travelers arriving from the West African nations stricken by the Ebola outbreak must use one of these five airports.
Hospitals on the list include Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey; Johns Hopkins in Baltimore; Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago; Emory University Hospital in Atlanta; MedStar Washington Hospital Center in the District of Columbia; and Bellevue Hospital Center in New York.
President Barack Obama's administration cited both the expanded hospital network and progress made in containing Ebola in West Africa as cause for optimism, according to the Associated Press. White House officials told the AP that "Ebola czar" Ron Klain informed Obama on Tuesday that not only is the U.S. better prepared to handle the virus, efforts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have made substantial progress compared to two months ago.
The CDC has also dismissed fears of airborne transmission of the virus, noting in a fact sheet that "scientists have not seen any evidence to suggest that the Ebola virus may be mutating to become more contagious or more easily spread." This month, international medical teams may administer experimental drug treatments for the virus in West Africa, according to the New York Times, but the use of randomized controlled trials raises ethical concerns, as it involves giving some patients placebos.