Letters Archives

UMB's Ebola Preparedness

Dear Colleagues:
 
As the Ebola crisis continues in West Africa and isolated cases occur in other parts of the world, we understand that students, faculty, and staff may have questions about the University's readiness to safeguard the health of its community.
 
Experts believe that the risk of an Ebola outbreak in the United States remains very low. That doesn't mean, however, that the University takes this risk lightly.
 
For months, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), the University of Maryland Medical System, and the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) have been working with each other, with local and state health departments, and with national and international public health agencies on issues of infection prevention, disease epidemiology, and emergency preparedness. Our faculty practices on campus and throughout the state are compliant with guidelines provided for outpatient practices issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
 
Within our clinical environment, leaders from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and UMMC have developed a comprehensive readiness plan for managing a potential Ebola threat. The planning framework consists of eight primary work groups focusing on treatment scenarios, policy structure, operational response, staff training and competency, the care environment, care delivery, communications, and laboratory services. Key faculty physicians and other clinical and operational staff members comprise these multi-disciplinary groups, all of which also include a member of the Infection Prevention program. A Strategic Oversight Committee, led by Robert Redfield Jr., MD, professor of medicine and chief of the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Division of Infectious Diseases, will coordinate the work of these groups and ensure the integration of their recommendations.
 
Early identification of potentially exposed individuals is key to prevention. Therefore, any member of the UMB community who has traveled to an affected country—Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, or Senegal—must contact Student and Employee Health at the University of Maryland Immediate Care Center upon returning to the United States. James Baronas, MD, director of Student and Employee Health, may be reached at 410-328-1362 or at jbaronas@som.umaryland.edu. Additionally, if you are a UMB student with a clinical rotation to any health care facility and have traveled to—or plan to travel to—an affected country, you must contact the Office of Student and Employee Health.
 
If you are a UMMC employee and are involved in travel to an affected country, you must contact UMMC Employee Health Services at 410-328-2685 to discuss UMMC policies before you travel and again when you return.
 
Vigilance remains our No. 1 defense, and it is incumbent upon all of us to keep each other safe and informed.
 
On Friday, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, sent a letter to all state employees detailing Maryland's efforts to protect citizens from infection.
 
The University's Health Sciences and Human Services Library provides resources on the Ebola virus, and the CDC offers additional information, including disease prevention, transmission, and symptoms, and the status of areas affected by the outbreak. We encourage you to read these summaries and FAQs, as credible information on Ebola is essential to managing concern about the virus.
 
Moreover, a UMB Ebola Information Network has been established so that faculty across the University may share information with one another regarding their Ebola-related work and identify opportunities for collaboration.
 
UMB is—proudly—a global University, and we enjoy many rich and longstanding partnerships with West African organizations, institutions, and colleagues. We know your thoughts are with them during this very difficult time.
 
We are fortunate to have at this University some of the nation's leading experts in infectious disease, viruses, and vaccine development, and we're confident that the work being done across campus to respond to this public health emergency will ensure the safety and well-being of our students and colleagues.
 
Sincerely,
 
Jay A. Perman, MD
President

E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA
Vice President, Medical Affairs UMB
Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine

 
Jeffrey A. Rivest

President and CEO, UMMC


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