Diocese of Palm Beach Takes Abundance of Precaution, Providing Health Tips, Implementing an Ebola Protocol for Employees and Volunteers Traveling

In its continuing efforts to provide a safe environment for its students, staff and parishioners in its schools and parishes, the Diocese of Palm Beach has established an Ebola Protocol in addition to the safety and medical training guidelines already in place. The diocese’s Ebola Protocol outlines steps those who travel to Ebola-affected areas should follow. The protocol was created after review of the Ebola Protocols from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health. Additionally, the diocese is working in partnership with health officials to help educate and provide resources to prevent the spreading of flu, Enterovirus D68 and Ebola.

 

In a memo released to all pastors, school presidents and principals, and agency heads, the Diocese of Palm Beach stated “in an abundance of precaution, and, due to the fact that some individuals in the Diocese of Palm Beach may travel to areas affected by the Ebola virus, we have reviewed Ebola Protocols from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health. The Diocese of Palm Beach is establishing an Ebola Protocol, which is to be followed until further notice.” As the memo continues, it states the steps clergy, religious, employees, volunteers and school parents must follow including notifying the proper diocesan entity official (a pastor, principal or entity manager) prior to travel, and that upon return from an Ebola-affected area, the steps the person should follow, including being screened and approved by a medical provider before they will be allowed to return to school/work (please see end of release for the Ebola Protocol).

 

“The Ebola Protocol the Diocese of Palm Beach has implemented is meant to be a precautionary measure to allay any concerns among those who attend our schools and parishes, and to continue working with health officials in their efforts to prevent the spread of Ebola. We are doing what we should to protect the safety of those in our faith community and the public,” said diocesan spokesperson, Dianne Laubert, Director of Communications.

 

The Ebola Protocol has been distributed to diocesan priests, religious, school and parish staff. The diocese has also distributed information that one may send home with students or distribute in their electronic communications and church bulletins. In all of its communication, the Diocese of Palm Beach is providing information from the CDC and the Florida Department of Health and hyperlinks to their respective websites.

 

Adds Laubert “The information the Diocese of Palm Beach is disseminating is the same information from the CDC and the state health department that everyone should have because it is already accessible and information people should be aware. Knowledge is power. With any infection or outbreak, whether it is the flu, the Enterovirus D68 or Ebola, people need to be aware and exercise some of the common basics like careful hygiene and washing hands with soap and water, and follow guidelines set forth by the health experts. We are doing what leading national health experts have asked those of us in the faith community to do.”

 

The Diocese of Palm Beach is among faith-based leaders and organizations invited recently by the CDC to be part of a conference call in which the faith community was asked to partner with the CDC in educating and providing resources. Through its website and parishes, the diocese is sharing information about general health and wellness tips produced by the CDC and the health department and encouraging individuals in its parishes and schools to follow the guidelines set forth by those health organizations. Some of the messaging includes:

  • Washing hands for at least 20 seconds as one of the most important steps to take to stay healthy and prevent the spread of illness.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands.
  • If you are not feeling well you should stay home from work or school.

 

The diocese is also reminding parishioners that there is a weekly televised Mass on Sunday mornings, celebrated by local priests, which airs at 9:30 am on the ION Television Network that they can watch if they must stay home due to illness.

 

Still, the Diocese of Palm Beach encourages all to continue monitoring information and guidelines provided by the CDC and the state health department as that is the best resource when dealing with an illness or infection.

 

A History of Safety & Medical Training

The Diocese of Palm Beach annually provides emergency training throughout the year to its employees. Just before the start of the 2014-2015 school year in early August, all 700 school instructional and non-instructional employees completed required training such as basic first aid, First Responder, CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), AED (Automatic External  Defibrilators), Bloodborne Pathogens and EpiPens. In light of recent developments, the diocese moved to the homepage of its employee website its safety training video on Bloodborne Pathogens from the Office of Safety and Occupational Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA’s video provides training and practice on the universal precautions that can prevent the spread of body fluids when handling wounds, or dealing with blood or any bodily fluid.

 

For more guidelines, the latest information and updates, visit www.cdc.gov and www.floridahealth.gov

 

The Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach encompasses the five counties of Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee. Comprised of 280,000 Catholics in 53 parishes and missions, the Diocese also serves the faithful community through its schools.

 

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Diocese of Palm Beach Ebola Protocol Policy for Individuals  Traveling to West Africa and Areas Affected by Ebola (national and international)

In an abundance of precaution, and, due to the fact that some individuals in the Diocese of Palm Beach may travel to areas affected by the Ebola virus, we have reviewed Ebola Protocols from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health. The Diocese of Palm Beach is establishing an Ebola Protocol, which is to be followed until further notice:

  • Prior to travel, notify your manager, principal or Pastor of the effective dates of travel and when you will return. This applies to employees, volunteers and school parents. Priests and Sisters should contact the Chancellor prior to travel.
     
  • Upon return to Florida, you will be required to be screened for Ebola by a medical provider. This must be completed before you can return to work/school. Based on the results of the screening, the following may occur:
     
  • If the medical provider determines that there is no need to take any precautions, they can provide you with a letter to verify that, which will be required for your return to work/school site. It is also recommended that you monitor yourself for fever or other symptoms for 21 days. A sample self-monitoring  schedule is attached for your convenience, however, please consult with your medical provider before using it.
     
  • If the medical provider determines that there is a chance that you may have been exposed, but you are exhibiting no symptoms, you will not be allowed to return to work/school until you have completed the attached self-monitoring  schedule. For school parents, your children will be required to stay home from school during this 21 day period.
     
  • If the medical provider determines that you are exhibiting symptoms that may be related to the Ebola virus, they will give you instructions on how to proceed. If symptoms are exhibited, the Florida Department  of Health County Office in your area must be contacted.

 

We have enclosed information  provided by the CDC and Florida Department of Health.  You can access the CDC website at www.cdc.gov, the Florida Department of Health website at www.floridahealth.gov, and the World Health Organization's website at  www.who.int for additional information and updates on affected areas and recommendations by these organizations.

 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

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Please visit the diocese's health tips page found at www.diocesepb.org/healthtips for health handouts, prevention tips and to view the diocese's Ebola Protocol.

 

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Category Tag(s): 2014 Press Releases