Gov. Pat Quinn has announced a task force that will help ensure the public health system across Illinois is prepared for the Ebola virus.
The task force was established through Executive Order with the Illinois Department of Public Health and includes members representing health care, local public health, emergency responders, the Illinois State Board of Health, state agencies and others to further strengthen the state’s ability to respond to Ebola.
“We have learned that the best way to address the Ebola virus is to educate ourselves and know the facts,” Quinn said. “I have directed IDPH to assemble a task force of experts that can lead a coordinated effort to ensure everyone in Illinois receives timely and accurate information regarding any potential threat. While we have no confirmed cases, the state will take every safeguard to protect first responders, health care workers and the people of Illinois.”
Two travelers – an adult and child who are not related – who arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare airport Tuesday, Oct. 21, are under medical evaluation following newly established safety protocols at Chicago area hospitals and airports. The adult patient has shown no signs or symptoms of Ebola virus disease and is no longer in isolation but will continue to be monitored by hospital officials.
Though improvements have been seen, the child patient — as a result of dehydration and as an extra step of precaution – will be tested for the Ebola virus. The patient maintains a normal temperature and shows no symptoms other than one reported case of vomiting and dehydration. The IDPH laboratory will conduct the preliminary testing while another specimen is sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing.
These measures will help ensure the public health department is prepared in case of Ebola affecting anyone in Illinois. Last week IDPH launched an informational hotline where residents can call (800) 889-3931 with questions or concerns regarding the Ebola virus. IDPH will continue to provide all updated CDC guidance through SIREN (State of Illinois Rapid Electronic Notification) to appropriate audiences (infection control professionals, infectious disease physicians, laboratories, local health departments, health care providers, health care facilities and EMS systems).
The advisory task force will help ensure a coordinated effort to communicate with the public and in reporting any situation that involves testing for Ebola. The task force will facilitate communication and information sharing, assist in designating treatment centers and assess our readiness and response as needed.
IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck and Deputy Governor Cristal Thomas will co-chair the task force, whose members include:
- Trish Anen, Vice President, Clinical Services, MCHC
- Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health
- Beth Fiorini, President, Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators (IAPHA)
- Dr. John Flaherty, Professor in Medicine-Infectious Diseases, Northwestern University
- Dr. Kiran Joshi, Senior Medical Officer, Cook County Department of Public Health
- Dr. Richard M. Novak, Division Chief, Infectious Diseases, University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System
- Dr. Javette C. Orgain, Chair, State Board of Health (SBOH)
- Pat Schou, Executive Director, Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN)
- Susan Y. Swart, Executive Director, ANA-Illinois & Illinois Nurses Foundation
- Alexander Tomich, Director, Infection Prevention and Control, Rush University Medical Center
- Dr. Michael Wahl, Director/Medical Director, Illinois Poison Center/MCHC
- Dr. Stephen Weber, Chief Medical Officer, Infectious Disease, The University of Chicago Medicine
- Maryjane A. Wurth, President and Chief Executive Officer, Illinois Hospital Association
The state is prepared to search for possible cases, implement infection control measures, support medical facilities, perform contact tracing and conduct laboratory testing. IDPH will continue to work with the CDC, local health departments, hospitals and medical facilities.
Preparedness steps IDPH has taken to prepare for a suspect or confirmed Ebola case in Illinois:
- Provided guidance to medical providers on identifying, evaluating and testing patients.
- Tested established public health systems to ensure contact tracing is readily available.
- Created Ebola.illinois.gov with information for IDPH health care partners.
- Established an Ebola informational hotline: (800) 889-3931.
- Completed a CDC online assessment of emergency preparedness and response activities related to Ebola.
- Convened conference calls with health departments and hospitals across Illinois.
For more information, visit www.Ebola.illinois.gov.