The Ebola outbreak in West Africa and subsequent cases in Dallas have precipitated a significant amount of activity across Duke University and Duke Medicine. We are writing today to update you on the plans and policies that are being put in place to address any potential cases of Ebola, to reduce the risks for our students, patients, faculty, staff, and visitors, and to apply Duke’s expertise and resources to this urgent public health crisis.
Members of the Duke community can be proud that many areas across the University are hard at work, in collaboration with others around the world, to find new diagnostic tests, new therapies and possible new vaccines that could be of enormous value in the worldwide relief effort.
CLINICAL PREPARATION, AWARENESS AND TRAINING
During the past weeks, Duke Medicine has been preparing for the unlikely but possible arrival of a patient with Ebola in one of our hospitals or clinics. These same standardized procedures and preparations have been implemented in both our employee and student health clinics. Duke Medicine leadership has put in place training and a series of protocols to identify, isolate and begin care should such a patient present to a Duke facility. Duke Medicine clinical staff should pay close attention to the ongoing communications from their departments for updates and specific instructions regarding this evolving situation.
TRAVEL TO AND FROM AFFECTED REGIONS
Consistent with the highest-level warnings issued by the Centers for Disease Control, Duke University has a current restriction in place for travel by undergraduate students to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
These restrictions also apply to all health profession students. This list may continue to evolve, and everyone is encouraged to check the Duke Restricted Regions List at https://global.duke.edu/admin/travelpolicy/rrl.php for updated information.
For Duke faculty, staff and graduate students who wish to undertake voluntary and mission-critical travel to these specific countries, an exception to the travel policy is required prior to the scheduling of the travel. An approval process has been implemented due to the degree of change in logistical and safety issues on the ground in these areas as the outbreak evolves.
At this time, Duke Medicine does not envision sponsoring any organized medical support team to the affected area. Medical professionals volunteering their time outside of Duke to fight this humanitarian crisis will be offered safety training, and support for their return may be available if the travel was pre-approved as noted above. All prospective travelers should also be aware that Duke’s ability to provide medical support or evacuation in the event of illness or exposure will be severely limited and potentially in the hands of the U.S. State Department, beyond Duke’s control.
Further, anyone who travels to an Ebola-affected area will be required to contact Employee Occupational Health and Wellness or the Student Health Center for an evaluation prior to their return to campus. It is likely that anyone, whether as a volunteer or employee, who has traveled to the endemic Ebola area for any reason will be required to self-quarantine for 21 days following the completion of travel before returning to Duke. Arrangements and support for this quarantine period may be available but would be subject to prior approval.
We appreciate your close attention to these procedures and encourage you to stay informed about the situation by visiting Duke’s Ebola resource website at http://sites.duke.edu/ebolainfo/ and through regular updates on Duke Today.
Sally Kornbluth, Provost
Kyle Cavanaugh, Vice President for Administration
William Fulkerson, Jr., Executive Vice President, DUHS
Nancy Andrews, Dean of the School of Medicine
Marion Broome, Dean of the School of Nursing