by: Greg Suskin Updated:
ROCK HILL, S.C. - Employees at Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill met for an hour Wednesday afternoon to talk about just one topic -- the Ebola virus.
Dr. Craig Charles was in that staff meeting.
He said taking the threat seriously means recognizing that an Ebola case could one day be treated at a Charlotte area hospital.
"It's very possible someone may show up on our doorstep and we need to be prepared," Charles said.
Piedmont staff has been updating plans and preparing staff for weeks now. However, on Thursday new signs will go up at all hospital entrances.
Those signs are directed at anyone who's recently traveled to a country where they risked possible exposure to Ebola. The signs will have a clear message to those people, Charles said.
"Please don't come in the hospital now,” the signs read. “Go around to this area and press a button to alert personnel to come and take care of you."
Doctors told Channel 9 the process will be very similar to one used when the SARS outbreak happened several years ago.
Channel 9 asked both major Charlotte hospitals what they are doing to prepare for Ebola.
Novant Presbyterian is reminding staff about the proper care of victims, closely monitoring the outbreak, reviewing all policies and processes for treatment and placing protective masks and suits in the emergency room just in case.
Novant statement regarding Ebola
Carolinas Health Care said that screening protocols are in place, they've reviewed the signs and symptoms of Ebola with staff, found an area in the hospital to isolate Ebola patients and are making sure bloodwork and tests related to the virus are separated from other patients.
CHS statement regarding Ebola
Much of what hospitals are doing has been in place since the Ebola outbreak first began in Africa.
Mecklenburg County's Health Director Marcus Plescia believes hospitals across the area are ready.
“We have state of the art hospitals in this community, we're very lucky with that. We have nationally renowned experts working in them," he said.
Health officials also feel confident that a virus like Ebola would not rapidly spread in the United States, mostly because of how it travels.
"It's not like you and I standing here talking, and one of us is likely to catch it from the other," Plescia said. "It really requires much closer contact with bodily fluids."