Hawaii leaders develop Ebola strategy

Hawaii leaders develop Ebola strategy

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As hospitals across the country prepare for a potential Ebola case, Hawaii officials are working on new guidelines to keep the state safe from the deadly virus. The director of Hawaii's Department of Health will also outline the state's strategy at a hearing this week at the state Capitol.

Hospitals are currently using their own protocols for handling possible Ebola cases, but now the state is working to create uniform guidelines.

"These nurses who are literally on the front lines in the trenches are very much afraid because they're not getting very consistent, straight-forward information about here is the standard that needs to be conducted in protecting yourself so that you can protect others," said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

State Senator Josh Green, who is also a physician, is holding a hearing on Wednesday. DOH officials and other stakeholders will brief lawmakers on their Ebola plans.

"I want to make sure that we have 100% planning in place so that we don't have any wrinkles at all. There can't be any room for a mistake in this case," said Green (D-Kona, Kau).

Now that two nurses in Texas have been infected after caring for an Ebola patient, nurses in Hawaii are worried.

"Everyone believed that the standard protection was enough and I think that the fact that it wasn't enough is what really scared everybody," said Joan Craft, president of the Hawaii Nurses Association.

A new Ebola working group will meet daily to create standardized protocols for protective gear, quarantine and other issues. The procedures are expected to be released in a couple of weeks.

"It's a very low probability at this point that we're going to have cases, but we still have to act as though we should expect one or two. If we are acting like we expect something to happen, we'll be prepared," said Green.

The hearing is on Oct. 22 at 9 a.m. in conference room 225.

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.