Via The Washington Post: How an Indiana hospital got it right when MERS showed up at the door. Excerpt:
Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, praised Community Hospital for its infection control and the rapid isolation of about 50 health-care workers who were exposed to the MERS patient so they did not create a chain of transmission.
In fact, one of the most interesting aspects of Community’s handling of the case is how it figured out who had been near the patient. Officials there reviewed security tapes, tracked the sign-ins required of everyone — from doctors to housekeepers — who entered the patient’s room and tracked them via the RFID badges they wear, which show their locations at all times. About 50 were sent home and kept isolated there until the hospital could be sure they did not have MERS. They are returning to work Monday and Tuesday, Kumar said.
The patient, a U.S. resident who had been working in a health-care facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, arrived in the Emergency Department on a busy Monday afternoon and was immediately taken to a triage room. (A bit of luck for the Community staff: The emergency room wasn’t slammed with patients as it was when I talked to Kumar on Monday.)
The room was private and equipped with a negative airflow system, so that even when someone opened the door, air flowed inward, not outward, containing the virus, Kumar said. The air is not vented through the hospital’s regular ducts, but sent through a special system with filters designed to destroy bacteria and viruses.
Three hours later, the patient, who needed oxygen and fluids, was admitted to the hospital’s medical floor, where he was again placed in a private room with special ventilation and seen by a primary care physician. By Tuesday, when an infectious disease specialist interviewed him over the phone, everyone who came in contact with him was required to wear gloves, gowns, masks and eye protection, Kumar said. The patient was put on a course of intravenous antibiotics because doctors weren’t sure whether his symptoms, which looked like pneumonia, were bacterial or viral.
The specialist asked the patient about his recent travel — if that question was asked in the emergency department, it didn’t trigger suspicions of MERS — and ordered a test for the virus, which has killed 145 people so far, the vast majority of them in Saudi Arabia.
The specialist sent a sample of the man’s sputum to the state Health Department, and the CDC confirmed the MERS diagnosis Thursday before holding a news conference on the situation Friday afternoon.