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Patient evaluated for potential – but unlikely – case of Ebola at Denver Health

Patient was a medical missionary in the Congo
Posted at 3:58 PM, Jul 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-30 14:16:41-04

DENVER — State health officials say a patient who was taken to Denver Health Sunday morning for evaluation of Ebola, tested negative.

Dr. Connie Price, the Chief Medical Officer at Denver Health, told Denver7 the patient reported being on a medical missionary trip to the Congo, and had just returned to the U.S. two days ago.

She said the patient got sick Sunday morning and was brought in by ambulance at 8:30 a.m.

“Although that area of the world had not seen any new cases for more than 45 days, out of an abundance of caution, due to his reports of dealing with sick individuals, including deceased, we felt it necessary to admit him to our bio-containment unit," Price said, "while we sorted through the facts and obtained some initial tests.”

Two Negative Tests

Denver Health testing came back negative,” Dr. Price said, during an early evening news conference. “We are waiting for our partners at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to confirm it.”

At 8:40 p.m., Mark Salley, of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, confirmed that the state's test was also negative.

While waiting for the test results, the patient was being cared for according to protocol.

The patient was placed in an isolation unit, which is separate from the rest of the hospital, and which has reverse air-flow.

Medical staff attending to the patient wear gear designed to protect them from infectious contamination.

Denver Health is one of ten regional centers designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to handle patients with Ebola.

No Actual Cases

Price said the hospital has dealt with two other suspected cases of Ebola, but no actual cases.

“We want to reassure the public that Denver Health has robust protocols in place for exactly this situation,” said Jennifer Hillmann, a hospital spokeswoman. “Denver residents and visitors have no need for concern.”

EMT, Ambulance Isolation

Dr. Price said, “The three individuals who had contact with the patient, two paramedics and student, (were) under isolation until we determined the final test results. “The (ambulance) that was used was also under quarantine until those tests came back.”

Additionally, Price said, “Public health officials (looked) for another individual who may be a significant other.”

Price said she is very proud of the way staff handled things Sunday morning.

“The easy part of this was the medical side,” she said. “Our staff knew what to do.  They knew how to transport the patient up to the unit.  They activated the team to take care of the patient.  All of that went very smoothly.  I think our struggle is making sure that we’re providing enough information to the public.  Communicating appropriately is the hardest part.”

Denver Health Divert

Denver Health was placed on “patient divert status” temporarily because of the situation.

“Denver Health goes on divert at times, when either our volumes require us to divert ambulances, or if there is a special situation,” Price said. “In this case, I think we were just trying to sort through information… out of an abundance of caution.”

She said once they sorted through the information, things went back to normal.