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Shreveport 'Ebola 101' forum: Experts allay fears, promote common sense hygiene - hand washing

William Beckett

Infectious disease experts at LSU Health Shreveport say the hospital is carrying out practice drills on how to care for an Ebola patient should the situation arise at University Health. Physicians, nurses and medical staff continue to practice using protective gear, according to Dr. John Vanchiere.

“Putting it on is important. But the most important thing is taking it off. Taking it off safely requires practice,” Vanchiere said, during an “Ebola 101” community forum held Saturday at Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center in Shreveport. “Practicing those techniques of putting on equipment and taking off equipment are ongoing at our institution.”

Pinpointing the rooms that potential Ebola victims would occupy has also been thought out. An isolated room is like a hospital within a hospital, according to Dr. Gerald Capraro, director of LSU Health Shreveport’s clinical microbiology lab.

“We have the ability to move important instrumentation into the patient’s room so that the testing can be done at the patient’s bedside. There, there is no risk of transporting a specimen from the patient’s room to the laboratory,” Capraro said.

Dr. Martha Whyte, medical director of the Region 7 Office of Public Health, says people should be prudent when taking protective measures. Whyte told the audience gathered at Sci-Port’s IMAX Dome Theatre that practicing common sense personal hygiene is the best protection from flu and other viruses.

“The health department tells you all year long every day: If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t go to school. Don’t go to work. Do your best to take care of yourself and keep that infection -- be it viral or bacterial -- from anyone else,” Whyte said. “Wash your hands a lot. Hand washing will protect you a huge amount from any illness.”

The one-hour Ebola Forum will air Thursday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. on Red River Radio.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.