Ohio agency to get $300K for Ebola protection

Published 10:16 am Tuesday, October 21, 2014

COLUMBUS (AP) — The Ohio Department of Health won approval Monday to buy thousands of additional protective outfits to prepare for the possibility of the state’s first Ebola case.

The agency, acting because a Dallas nurse tested positive for the virus after flying from Texas to Cleveland, also received permission to contract with a biohazard company for cleanup and decontamination.

Treatment of a single patient for one day would require 240 sets of protective equipment over 24 hours — such as gowns, boot covers, goggles and respirators — said Lynne Bratka, interim chief of the department’s Bureau of Health Preparedness. That assumes 10 health care workers changing their equipment eight times during a shift, times three shifts, she said.

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The $300,000 in state and federal funds approved by a legislative spending committee allows the state to step in “if a hospital has difficulty receiving their supplies in a timely fashion,” Bratka said.

The contract, with Cardinal Health in Dublin in suburban Columbus, allows the state to boost its current supplies six times over.

The state Controlling Board, a bipartisan legislative committee, also approved a $500,000 contract with Absolute Bio-Recovery Service of Cincinnati.

Proper “and complete cleanup of surfaces, and disposal of contaminated linens and other items is required to prevent additional exposure to individuals in the home,” according to the written request by Paul Maragos, procurement chief for the Health Department.

The state is taking action after nurse Amber Vinson was diagnosed with Ebola last week after caring for a man in a Dallas hospital with Ebola who later died.

Officials are uncertain of how she became infected. She flew from Dallas to Cleveland on Oct. 10 and flew back Oct. 13. Vinson is being treated at a specialized unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

There are now 142 people being monitored in Ohio because of contact or potential contact with Vinson, the state said Monday. They include people with whom Vinson had direct contact, those who visited the Akron bridal shop where her bridesmaids tried on dresses Oct. 11 and those who were passengers on the flights she took.

Also Monday, all 16 members of Ohio’s U.S. House delegation including House Speaker John Boehner sent a letter asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide all necessary help to determine whether Ohioans may have been exposed to Ebola.

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown has called on the CDC to send additional Ebola preparedness experts and to work more actively on its next steps.

The CDC says it plans to intensify assistance in Ohio and add personnel.

In Solon in suburban Cleveland, two school buildings reopened Monday after undergoing a precautionary cleaning for Ebola. Solon City Schools canceled classes in two buildings last Thursday after it learned a staff member flew on the Frontier Airlines plane on which Vinson was a passenger the previous day.