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UCLA, 4 other UC hospitals ready to treat California Ebola patients

UCLA, 4 other UC hospitals ready to treat California Ebola patients
Ambulance staff at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center took part in an Ebola virus readiness drill on Oct. 17. One week later, the hospital and four other UC medical centers were designated as priority hospitals to treat Ebola patients in California. (Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images)

Officials announced Friday that all five University of California medical centers are positioned to provide care for Californians with confirmed Ebola -- should any such cases arise.

As of the announcement, there were no confirmed or suspected patients with Ebola in the state, the University of California Office of the President and the California Department of Public Health emphasized, in a press release announcing the hospitals' readiness. But the UC facilities -- in Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco -- all said they would be ready to leap into action if that changed.

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"We appreciate [the UC Medical Centers'] leadership role in willingness to treat Ebola patients," said state health department director Dr. Ron Chapman, in the statement.

"In the past weeks we have been actively readying ourselves for any health eventuality related to Ebola," added Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services.

Stobo said that "only healthcare workers who are members of a core designated group or who volunteer to do so will provide care to confirmed Ebola patients."

The hospitals will coordinate with the state and local health departments to manage preparedness, as well as with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health to make sure facilities maintain safety standards for healthcare workers, according to the statement, which also noted that other hospitals are likely to join the list of "priority hospitals" for Ebola treatment.

In a statement, C. Duane Dauner, president of the California Hospital Assn., praised the designation of the UC medical centers and said that additional hospitals ready to accept and treat Ebola patients would be identified next week.

In an Ebola preparedness update for reporters on Friday morning, Los Angeles County interim health officer Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser did not provide any additional information about what other facilities in Los Angeles County might join the list. He said the county public health department was working closely with "a number of hospitals" that were preparing to take Ebola patients, but that facilities had not yet chosen to disclose that willingness.

Gunzenhauser also told reporters that the public health department had been notified by the state of travelers from West Africa who passed through airport checkpoints on their way to Los Angeles County.  He said staffers were actively monitoring those individuals to make sure they didn't develop Ebola and would speed them into care if they do.

Gunzenhauser declined to specify how many visitors from West Africa were being monitored.

For more on public health, follow me on Twitter: @LATerynbrown

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