Officials making plans in response to Ebola threat

Courtney Garloff, Editor-In-Chief

Campus officials are double-checking emergency preparedness in the wake of the Ebola crisis.

Officials say they meet and discuss benchmarks and guidelines used at other universities.

“We base what we are doing off of other schools’ table top exercises,” said Kit Foley, Vice President of Student Affairs.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever is a virus spread through direct contact with blood or body fluids, including urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen of a person who is sick with Ebola.

This out break started in several countries in Africa and was recently was brought to the United States by medical workers who contracted the virus while working in Africa to treat the sick.

The US has since had four confirmed cases, the closest in New York. There has also been one death due to the virus.

In the case of any medical emergency, Health and Wellness Center Director Angela Evans would make decisions regarding quarantine or any other safety measures.

“We would follow Angela’s recommendations along with the guidelines of the CDC, and the most important thing is to balance the individual rights of the effected student with the overall good of the campus community,” Foley said.

Preparing for an infectious disease outbreak like Ebola takes planning and work, officials said, and they are doing it.

“We are constantly asking ourselves what kind of precautions do we take in this situation, so that we can be ready for anything,” said Dean of Students Amy Lehart.

“We routinely take a look at our policies and see if we need to make any changes or improve them to make campus as safe as possible,” said Foley.

Students said they also feel it’s necessary to be prepared.

“Ebola is something that everyone should be prepared for because anything can happen. It’s here and it can spread,” said first year medical imaging major Hope Richner.

Sophomore physical therapy major Savannah Schools said even with every precaution, people may still be at risk of getting sick with the virus.

“I think that Ebola is a scare tactic that is going to open our eyes to the real terrors in the world,” Schools said.

Foley said the university’s response to the Ebola outbreak can be compared to the Swine Flu pandemic in 2009.

“We made sure that our students were aware of what precautionary measures to take, including washing their hands. We did this by placing information around campus,” said Foley.

Officials say they ares taking a team approach to preparedness.

“We have a group process to figure out what measures are in that particular situation. That includes our amazing faculty and staff with the students always being in the center,” said Lehart.

“We want to make sure that all students are safe,” she said.

Despite the seriousness of the Ebola threat in the U.S., at least one student is taking a humorous approach to dealing with it.

“I can’t wait,” said sophomore physical therapy major Arielle Lee Kneller.