Am J Infect Control. 2020 Apr;48(4):375-379. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2019.12.005. Epub 2020 Feb 6.
BACKGROUND: In 2014, 56 US hospitals were designated as Ebola treatment centers (ETCs). ETCs had minimum augmented capability requirements for Ebola virus disease care, including for staffing and training. We sought to identify current ETC staffing challenges and frequency of staff retraining.
METHODS: In May 2019, an electronic survey was distributed to representatives of the 56 ETCs.
RESULTS: Sixty-six percent (37/56) of ETCs responded. Registered nurses comprised the majority of ETC staff. All responding units required orientation training (average = 15.21 hours) and all but one required retraining. Among the top challenges that ETCs reported to maintaining high-level isolation capabilities were staff training time, staff recruitment, staff retention, and training costs.
DISCUSSION: Five years after ETC designation, units face staffing challenges. Research is lacking on the effective number of hours and optimal frequency of staff training. ETCs reported smaller staffing teams compared to our 2016 assessment, but team composition remains similar. As units continue to maintain capabilities with decreasing external support and attention, the need for retraining must be balanced with logistical constraints and competing demands for staff time.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study shows that US preparedness capabilities are reduced. More research, support, and funding are needed to sustain the unique knowledge and proficiency acquired by ETC teams to ensure domestic preparedness for highly hazardous communicable diseases.