Ebola A Year Later

Emory team shares lessons learned from treating first US patients

'We Can Fear, or We Can Care: As media attention intensified and public concern about Ebola mounted, Emory chief nurse Susan Grant wrote an op-ed that turned the tide, educating and easing fears.
Ann Borden

In the year since Emory University Hospital admitted the first patients infected with Ebola virus disease to be treated in the United States, Emory has become a resource for hospitals around the world, sharing best practices for preparedness, prevention, and treatment of the highly infectious disease.

Members of the multidisciplinary team that provided care for the patients—two American medical missionaries who were exposed to the Ebola virus in Liberia, and two subsequent patients—discuss the preparedness and protocols that led to their successful treatment in the July 28 issue of PLOS Medicine, a peer-reviewed publication that is openly accessible.

“The many challenges and the strategic and tactical lessons learned by Emory physicians, nurses, faculty, staff, and administrators in treating patients with Ebola virus disease provide us an opportunity to share information that may help others to prepare, prevent, and treat difficult emerging diseases,” says David S. Stephens, lead author of the article and vice president for research in Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center.

“Our experience with Ebola virus disease as an academic health center demonstrates the importance of preparation, communications, and detailed implementation.”

The authors also address Emory’s decision to accept and treat the patients, which was made in coordination with the US Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and was based on medical need, Emory’s preparedness, and the potential to use the experience to advance knowledge.

As an academic medical center, Emory benefited from strong programs in health care delivery, quality, infectious diseases, infection control and biosafety, immunology, vaccines, biodefense, travel medicine, emergency medicine, and public health.

Emory has continued to disseminate best practice information and new knowledge about the treatment, complications, and clinical course of Ebola; serve as a national leader in education and training; create new university forums; develop education materials for residents, fellows, and the general public; present clinical and research findings; and engage in the broader policy issues of preventing and treating highly contagious diseases.

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