Health Minister Terry Lake issued the following statement on the health-care system’s preparation for the low likelihood of a case of Ebola in B.C.:
“The risk remains very low. But British Columbians can be assured that hospitals, health authorities and the Ministry of Health are prepared to respond to a case of Ebola in B.C.
“B.C. health authorities have put in place internationally accepted infection control systems and procedures that reflect those being used by experts around the world. These are the same standards being used by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta Georgia; in the U.S. that have cared for Ebola virus disease cases; and by Medecins Sans Frontieres, operating in West Africa.
“Our front line response has been forged by our experiences in managing the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. Through these experiences we developed protocols that are used to identify, isolate and treat any suspected infectious disease, like Ebola.
“That being said, the safety of staff and patients in dealing with a virus like this is paramount. And the recent case of the transmission of Ebola to a health-care worker in Dallas has highlighted that.
“Late last week, I heard from the head of the BC Nurses’ Union Gayle Duteil who expressed concerns related to nurse training and awareness of this illness. Nurses, paramedics, doctors and all health-care workers are on the front lines of caring for patients. We want to ensure that these important partners are well equipped to confidently and safely treat people that presents to them for care.
“As a result of the concerns expressed to myself and the ministry, I’ve asked the provincial health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, to take a close look at the protocols that are in place and to work with public health officials to confirm that hospitals have the equipment and training to recognize and treat patients with possible Ebola, while protecting their health-care staff.
“Dr. Perry Kendall has set up a co-ordinating committee, with a wide range of clinical experts, including physicians, infection control experts, nurses, BC Ambulance staff and laboratory experts to co-ordinate the response throughout the province. The first priority of the Health Authorities will be to ensure that health-care workers are confident in and competent with the personal protective equipment available, so that if they have to use it, they can do so safely and with confidence.
“I want to personally thank our front line health-care workers for the important work that they do. As we have seen in the past these staff have always been available to care for patients when they were needed and they play a critical role in our ability to contain outbreaks.”
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)