Ebola risk in the office: Promoting precaution, sparing panic

When it comes to handling risks related to the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, medical offices have to walk a fine line between taking appropriate precautions and perpetuating excessive fear.

"Our goal is not to frighten our staff, not to frighten the public. We're here to help them," Robert G. Graw, Jr., M.D., founder and medical director of Righttime Medical Care, a private company that operates 13 urgent-care clinics in Central Maryland, told the Baltimore Sun earlier this week.

Nonetheless, in the interest of protecting patients and healthcare workers, Righttime and other ambulatory facilities adapted the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the following ways:

  • The University of Maryland Medical System has provided screening tools for its hospitals and physician offices to help facilities triage, isolate and treat potential Ebola patients promptly, said Mary Lynn Carver, senior vice president for the system.
  • Katzen Eye Group, which has six locations in the Baltimore area, sent an email message to patients this week urging them to reschedule appointments if they are sick with symptoms associated with the flu, enterovirus or Ebola. A Katzen spokeswoman told the newspaper the email went out "as a reminder for patients to be mindful of other patients and reschedule their appointment if they are exhibiting symptoms for any illness."
  • Operators at Righttime's call center question patients reporting symptoms that could be related to Ebola, such as whether they've recently traveled to West Africa. Inside the clinics themselves, signage directs patients who recently traveled to West Africa to wear a mask and report immediately to the receptionist, after which they can be seen right away in a private room.

To learn more:
- read the article