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New State Health Commissioner Takes On Preparing for Ebola

by Indiana State Department of Health on October 23, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS—Newly appointed State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H, kicked off his first day on the job with an internal meeting about the State’s Ebola response efforts.  Although today is his first official day as State Health Commissioner, Dr. Adams has been meeting with executive staff at the Indiana State Department of Health and participating in preparedness efforts regarding the current Ebola situation since being appointed by Governor Pence earlier this month.

“I am honored and humbled that the Governor has given me this opportunity to serve as Indiana State Health Commissioner,” said Dr. Adams. “We have a highly skilled and experienced team here at the State Health Department and together we are working to ensure that Indiana is prepared to safely and effectively care for a patient with Ebola, if necessary.”

State health officials are working closely with Indiana hospitals and healthcare providers to ensure they are prepared to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new guidance regarding infection control practices, specifically personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare providers, which was issued on Monday, Oct. 20.

The enhanced guidance is centered on three principles:

·         All healthcare workers undergo rigorous training and are practiced and competent with PPE, including putting it on and taking it off in an established routine manner.

·         No skin exposure when PPE is worn.

·         All workers are supervised by a trained monitor who watches each worker putting PPE on and taking it off. 

The State Health Department is ordering additional PPE to increase the State’s existing supply. This PPE will be available to healthcare providers upon consultation with State health officials in response to a highly suspect case.

On Monday, Oct. 20, the State Health Department opened an Ebola call center make it easier for Hoosiers to get questions answered about the risk of Ebola in Indiana. The call center telephone number is (877) 826-0011. It is open Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Call (888) 561-0044 for the hearing impaired. The State Health Department is also regularly updating its website with information, check 

State health officials are in constant communication with local, state and federal partners, as well as healthcare providers, to share information and guidance and evaluate healthcare providers’ needs.

Eight individuals have been treated for Ebola in the United States, including two healthcare workers who treated patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, at Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. No cases have been tested for or reported in Indiana. Health care workers and others who had close contact with Duncan before his hospitalization have completed the 21-day surveillance period.  None have developed symptoms.

People with Ebola can only spread the Ebola virus when they have symptoms. There is no risk of transmission if someone does not have symptoms. In the United States, Ebola is only spread through direct contact with blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, feces, vomit and semen, or a needlestick) of a person who is sick with Ebola or the body of a person who has died from Ebola. Ebola is not spread through the air by water or food, or by casual contact.  

All Indiana healthcare providers are required to report any cases of illness that might pose a risk to public health including Ebola Virus Disease, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), measles, rubella, mumps, tuberculosis, pandemic influenza and other diseases.

About Dr. Adams

Dr. Adams currently serves as Assistant Professor of Clinical Anesthesia at Indiana University School of Medicine and as a staff anesthesiologist at Eskenazi Health, where he is Chair of the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee.  Previously, he served as staff anesthesiologist at Ball Memorial Hospital in Delaware County, and as a physician rapid responder at both St. Vincent Women's and Indianapolis Orthopedic Hospitals.

He earned a B.S. in Biochemistry and a B.A. in Biopsychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he obtained research experience in the Netherlands and Zimbabwe, and worked under Nobel Prize winner Dr. Tom Cech. He earned his Masters of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, and his Medical Doctorate at the Indiana University School of Medicine. 

Dr. Adams lives in Fishers with his wife and three children. 


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