By Elly Spencer
In light of recent Ebola virus scares, Baylor nursing students enrolled in the Louise Herrington School of Nursing transferred from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas to nearby hospitals to complete clinicals.
Students were moved last week to the nearby Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas to finish their mandatory clinic hours after the virus infected Dallas nurse Nina Pham, who worked directly with the infected patient.
Lori Fogleman, Baylor’s assistant vice president for media communications, said the nursing students were never near the initial Ebola case and the cases that followed.
She said there is no concern for the health of Baylor students and faculty. Presbyterian called for the removal of all nursing students from the surrounding area in order for hospital staff to better focus its attention on the care and well-being of its patients and staff.
Dr. Shelley Conroy, dean of the Louise Herrington School of Nursing, said the curriculum for nursing students will not be changed and students will continue their working hospital hours as normal at different Dallas and Fort Worth hospitals.
“We use many different health facilities in the DFW metroplex,” Conroy said. “If anything, this whole situation provides great practice for our students.”
Ladera Ranch, Calif., junior Meghan Rafael said her nursing unit functioned normally after the first Ebola case, aside from switching hospitals for clinicals. Rafael was part of one of the units transferred out of Presbyterian and she said students have been kept out of contact with any suspected Ebola patients and have not been trained to personally care for them.
All nursing students were initially located in a building disconnected from the Presbyterian emergency room but were transferred elsewhere as a further precaution, Rafael said.
Waco-McLennan County public health officials met Friday afternoon to calm fears from the general public on the risks of the Ebola infection spreading since the death of Thomas Duncan, the first Ebola-related causality in America.
Dr. Edward Verner, an infectious disease specialist with Waco Infectious Disease Associates, said the spread of Ebola throughout the nation is extremely unlikely because the virus can only be spread through contact with bodily fluids and only when the infected individual is showing symptoms.
Sharon Stern, Baylor’s medical director, said there have been no known immediate concerns to student health on the main campus in Waco either.
“There have been no threats to student health that I’m aware of,” she said. “We are working closely with medical personnel around the county, including the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District.”
In a Baylor News Flash email sent to all students, faculty and staff Friday, university officials informed the Baylor community that every precaution to ensure the health and safety of the campus is underway.
The email also informed students of the differences between Ebola and the common cold or influenza, which should be at the forefront of students’ minds because it is flu season.
“Influenza is a virus that has devastating consequences in our country each year,” stated the email.
For information about the flu shot clinic, which operates until Sept. 22, or to report concerns about the Ebola virus, Baylor Health Services has asked that students contact them at 254-710-1010.