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Hawaii hospitals revamping safety procedures to prepare for Ebola

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Hawaii health officials have identified four Oahu hospitals whose staff will get intensive training on how to handle Ebola, the deadly virus that has killed thousands in West Africa.

Lawmakers convened health officials Wednesday at an Ebola briefing to find out how the state is preparing to protect medical workers and citizens, despite reiterating Hawaii’s low risk for the disease.

“We’ve had some test runs so to speak but this case is unique. We worry about infection and that it has a mortality rate that’s so high,” said Senate Health Committee chairman Josh Green (D, Naalehu-Kailua Kona), who convened the briefing. “It’s reasonable for us to be absolutely prepared. The committee’s hope is we cross every T and dot every I even though we have low suspicion and probability of having a case of Ebola virus.”

The Department of Health commissioned a working group Monday that will revamp safety procedures and “infectious control practices” at hospitals statewide within the next two weeks, said Toby Clairmont, director of emergency services for the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

“Our intent is to do face-to-face competency based training in every facility,” he said. “There’s a new normal emerging here.”

Health officials wouldn’t publicly disclose which of the main hospitals will be trained as an Ebola-designated facility.

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