BALTIMORE, Md.- Governor Martin O'Malley led a team of hospital and other health officials Friday to update the public on Maryland's efforts to protect its communities against infectious diseases, including the Ebola virus.
To date, there have been no cases of Ebola diagnosed in Maryland.
“We are not taking this situation lightly,” said Governor O'Malley. “We are working together across agencies, with our federal and local government and community partners, and with Maryland hospital officials to prepare aggressively so that we can keep Marylanders safe.”
At the briefing, Maryland officials reviewed preparations, guidance, and training for the emergency management system, medical offices, emergency departments, and inpatient facilities. Hospital officials from Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland provided updates on efforts underway throughout their institutions.
“We must support the safety of front line healthcare workers as we prepare for a possible new case of Ebola virus infection,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH).
In September, Secretary Sharfstein issued an order requiring communication and coordination between healthcare providers and the health departments on all suspected cases of Ebola. DHMH has one of 13 labs authorized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test for Ebola. Maryland also receives detailed data from Emergency Departments and absenteeism data from its schools to continually monitor trends in health.
The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is coordinating the State's overall Ebola response. MEMA has established a virtual joint information center so information and guidance can be shared across state agencies including Transportation, Corrections, and State Police. Governor O'Malley brought various agencies together to conduct a tabletop exercise in August, and MEMA is convening regular meetings to review the latest information and plan for a wide range of possible scenarios. Earlier this week, Governor O'Malley, DHMH officials, the Maryland Secretary of State, and representatives from various congressional offices met with leaders of the African diaspora community to discuss solutions, including efficient information-sharing and efforts to combat the disease in Africa.
DHMH has launched a website devoted to Ebola at http://dhmh.maryland.gov/ebola and DHMH Secretary Sharfstein has written all state employees with basic information about the virus.