Online Program

Roles for healthcare volunteers during Ebola and infectious disease outbreaks: A web survey of Oregon's registered volunteers

Monday, November 2, 2015

Eric Gebbie, DrPH, MIA, MA, Public Health Division, Health Security, Preparedness and Response Program, Oregon Health Authority, Portland, OR
Background/Purpose: During the public health response to the Ebola outbreaks of 2014, discussions with fellow planners around the state and country, as well as environmental scans at the time, revealed only weak planning for volunteers. Irrelevant roles included mass vaccination (irrelevant for Ebola response) and receiving training on Ebola-specific personal protective equipment (though with no effective plan for when, how or why such volunteers would utilize that training or come into contact with Ebola-infected persons.) Yet the Oregon Public Health Division needed to engage the 2,500 licensed healthcare providers pre-registered and cleared for response as state agents during disasters and public health emergencies

Methods: A web survey was designed and distributed, with responses required and survey closed within seven days due to the need for rapid planning related to the evolving incident. Questions were primarily open-ended in order to avoid all bias, and responses were coded thematically.

Results/Outcomes: The largest categories of primary roles identified for volunteers in infectious disease response included suggested education of members of the community (33%), patient screening (12%), triage (10%) and staffing call centers (7%). In terms of readiness and training to perform those roles, overall 39% felt extremely or very well prepared, 37% moderately prepared, and 22% only slightly or not at all prepared.

Conclusions: The volunteer respondents identified far more roles that were expected that would support of the overall public health response to an emerging infections disease outbreak, and not simply emergency clinical care roles as was expected.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control

Learning Objectives:
List at least three new roles identified by healthcare volunteers related to Ebola and other emerging infectious disease outbreaks

Keyword(s): Emergency Preparedness, Workforce

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a doctorate in public health leadership with a focus on emergency preparedness, and coordinate all of the state of Oregon’s registered emergency healthcare volunteers, with duties that include statewide planning, exercise and deployment after action reviews, and program evaluation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.