HHS provides nearly $200 million to hospitals, states to deal with Ebola virus

Hospitals and states will receive nearly $200 million in funds from the Department of Health and Human Services to prepare for and respond to the Ebola epidemic.

For the past several months, states and hospitals have collaborated on how best to respond to patients with the Ebola virus. They have learned the importance of identifying and treating patients early and making sure healthcare employees are in safe working conditions.

In an interim guidance report released in January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that people who develop signs or symptoms of the Ebola virus should contact their state or local health authority and head to an Ebola treatment center or an Ebola assessment hospital. Ebola treatment centers care and manage patients throughout their disease, while Ebola assessment hospitals evaluate and care for patients for up to 96 hours or until they’re discharged or transferred to another hospital.

If acute care hospitals identify patients with Ebola symptoms, the CDC recommends the patients be isolated. They can be tested for the virus if they’re considered low risk, but they should be transferred to an Ebola assessment hospital if they’re thought to be at high risk of contracting the virus.

As of late October, more than 10,000 people had contracted the Ebola virus since an outbreak was reported in Guinea, West Africa in March, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

In December, Congress passed the Public Health Emergency Preparedness program to provide emergency Ebola funds. With the new funding, the federal government will award $339,500,000 with the money being used for up to 10 regional Ebola and other special pathogen treatment centers, state Ebola treatment centers, assessment hospitals and healthcare facilities.

“I’d like to thank cities, states and hospitals across the country and the public health community for stepping up and taking action,” HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Nicole Lurie said in a news release. “We are building on the work we’ve already done and further investing in domestic preparedness to protect the public’s health from Ebola, as well as boosting preparedness for many other types of health threats.”

Read the HHS news release here.