EDITORIAL: Ebola response required

We live in a world that is increasingly small, with local residents travelling well beyond the our valley

There are going to be some residents who question why the Interior Health Authority is putting resources into Ebola response. How can the disease that’s infecting and killing thousands in western Africa show up in the Okanagan?

However, consider that there have been confirmed cases in Texas while there have been several individuals across Canada tested for Ebola-like symptoms.

We live in a world that is increasingly small, with local residents travelling well beyond our valley for employment, recreation and humanitarian efforts. As an example, the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District recently agreed to students going to China because the original destination was Ghana, which has been impacted by Ebola.

It’s entirely reasonable to think that someone from here may be in western Africa or another destination, such as Texas, where Ebola is present.

As a result, IHA has to be prepared for someone with Ebola-like symptoms to walk into a hospital, including in Vernon. What will the initial response be from medical personnel? Where will the patient be quarantined from everyone else? What resources will be needed in an Interior community to ensure the patient is treated properly and sufficient steps are taken to prevent the possible spread if Ebola is diagnosed?

The B.C. Nurses Union has raised alarm bells about the health authority’s ability to handle a case of Ebola, and as health care professionals, nurses provide a wealth of expertise. But everyone at the table — doctors, nurses, technicians, etc. — need to work co-operatively instead of finger-pointing or pursuing individual mandates.

Obviously we hope Ebola does not arrive in the North Okanagan, but if it does, all of us, residents and medical personnel, need to ensure we are prepared.