The Fictional Fate of the Ebola Patient

(Left to right) Nurse Steve, Nurse Lydia, and patient / actor Patricia Roberts during a simulated examination. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Earlier in May, Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center conducted an ebola simulation where the hospital received and treated a patient with the disease. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services had chosen Kodiak as the site for a test run of how Alaska hospitals would handle such an infection. It involved multiple actors, a real life stage, and a lot of fake bodily fluids.

KMXT tracked the exercise up until the patient arrived and met with the nurses, but left before the patient met her fate.

So, we followed up.


This story does not have a happy ending.

The last time I saw the patient, she was telling two nurses in hazmat suits that she had recently gotten back from Africa.

“I was kinda feeling a little bit gross and it’s just considerably gotten worse and worse.”

The next step Providence would have taken, according to its marketing and communications specialist Carlie Franz, is to transport the patient off island.

But the patient did not make it that far.

Franz says the exercise organizers threw in a plot twist, which is that the character died at the hospital.

“That actually kind of gave us a really great educational experience because one of the really important things in dealing with infectious disease, especially ebola, is what you are to do with the remains.”

She says Providence had to order a body bag from Anchorage.

“Because unfortunately you know we don’t want any contamination and fluids to infect or contaminate other surfaces or people, so yeah, it’s a very special body bag.”

The next recommended step was cremation.

But the tale doesn’t end there – it continues on with five members of the patient’s simulated family.

“And they had been in our waiting room, looking for information and waiting for updates. When we delivered the news that their loved one was deceased, we immediately screened all of these individuals because they could too have been exposed.”

Franz says staff isolated them separately to prevent any further risk of infection.

The patient’s sister, who had been at a high risk, became their next patient. She says after her check-up, they medevac’d her to Anchorage in an IsoPod.

“It’s like a capsule, I think that’s probably the best analogy, where the person is completed encapsulated, which prevents infection from spreading, so this type of technology was actually used in the real ebola events.”

From Anchorage, Franz says the patient was transported to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington.

She says the next step for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services is to figure out what worked, what didn’t, and to apply that to other hospitals in the state.

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