City News

Photos of the News Conference are posted on Flickr

Office of the Mayor - Oct. 22, 2014

City and county agencies are prepared to respond should a local resident exhibit symptoms of Ebola, and Wake Forest Baptist Health and Forsyth Medical Center are donating medical supplies to fight the disease in Liberia, officials said today during a news conference at City Hall.

Although there have been no identified instances of people here being exposed to Ebola, first responders have reviewed procedures should they come in contact with a potentially infected patient. Firefighters responding to medical calls wear masks, breathing apparatus and gloves, Chief Antony Farmer said. This will be augmented with additional protective gear that will be provided to the Police and Fire departments at the direction of City Manager Lee Garrity.

In addition, the city’s Risk Management and Human Resources departments are working to provide training and information to city employees about Ebola. In the case of confirmed contact with an Ebola patient, the local Emergency Operations Center would be activated and the Forsyth County Public Health Department would serve as the lead agency in coordinating the response. Marlon Hunter, the public health director, said that the health department has communicable disease nurses prepared to immediately begin tracing contacts of any person suspected of having Ebola.

“We know that when it comes to Ebola, many are fearful,” Hunter said. “We have a 1-800 Ebola hotline in place so we stand ready 24 hours a day to answer any questions related to Ebola.” The hotline number is (800) 222-1222.

To fight the spread of the disease in West Africa, Wake Forest Medical Center and Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center each are donating an estimated $10,000 to $15,000 worth of masks, gloves, gowns and other medical supplies to Samaritan’s Purse for use by its aid workers in Liberia, representatives of the two medical centers said.

Kendall Kauffeldt, the director of Liberia and West Africa donations for Samaritan’s Purse, said the supplies will be distributed by its staff of 18 Americans and 400 Liberians in that country fighting the deadly disease.

“The numbers on the ground are overwhelming” Liberia’s medical providers, Kauffeldt said, “so we are focusing on community care centers in rural areas and embarking on a home-based care approach, giving families the protective equipment and supplies they need to provide care.”

The donations were facilitated by Mayor Allen Joines, who approached the medical centers at the request of the Liberian Organization of the Piedmont, said James Hunder, the organization’s president. “I wrote to all the mayors in North Carolina to join in the fight and it was Mayor Joines that responded,” Hunder said. Speaking to not only Joines but also the medical centers and Samaritan’s Purse, Hunder said, “We say thank you, thank you so much for coming to our aid in the fight to eradicate this dreadful disease.”

Joines said he was pleased “to be able to address in some way this issue facing our world and this country…. We are so delighted and grateful that (the medical centers) are stepping up.”

Dr. Bret Nicks, the associate dean for global health at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said, “Whether Novant or Wake Forest Baptist, we’re a family and we’ve come together to respond. Global health is the simple recognition that the health of people in Winston-Salem can be impacted by the health of people in countries across the globe. What can happen in West Africa can come to Winston-Salem.”

Sean Sanz, the chief operating officer of Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, said that Novant has a long-standing relationship with Samaritan’s Purse and has donated $625,000 worth of supplies to the organization over the past four years. “We are very pleased to provide any help we can to Samaritan’s Purse, because they have a direct impact,” he said.

Citizens who would like to help can donate online at SamaritansPurse.org or mail a donation to Samaritan’s Purse, P.O. Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607. Indicate on the check that the donation is for Ebola - West African Relief.

Watch the news conference [video/44min]

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