The Ontario government is ramping up its efforts to prepare for a case of Ebola.  Today, it announced ten hospitals that are designated as referral centres to treat potential Ebola cases.  Three of those centres are in Eastern Ontario:  The Ottawa Hospital, The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Kingston General Hospital.  The Ottawa Paramedic Services will also be among those front-line services outfitted to transport potential cases of Ebola to these designated centres. Health officials are quick to point out that the risk of an Ebola case here is very slim. Still, the measures today ramp up our readiness and improve our equipment just in case.

A reverse isolation room in the intensive care unit at the Ottawa Hospital is currently the designated room in which to treat a potential Ebola patient, contain the deadly virus and keep front line workers safe.  At least, that's the plan.

Cameron Love is the Chief Operating Officer with the Ottawa Hospital, ‘We are hoping we will be fully prepared,’ he says, ‘but ideal situation is that we never see a case. But our focus is to make sure people are prepared and that all the processes are in place and ready for the first case, should it arise.’

There was criticism from nurses that they were not properly prepared when a suspected case of Ebola arrived at the Ottawa Hospital over the weekend; that their robes were too short and their necks were exposed.  That case turned out to be negative.

Ramping up training and equipment is a key part of the government's Ebola planning.

‘The province has designated ten referral hospitals to deal with Ebola,’ Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s Health Minister announced at a news conference in Toronto.

The hospitals include the Ottawa Hospital, CHEO, Kingston’s General Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences, Health Science North, Hospital for Sick Children, London Health Sciences Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital, Sunnybrook Hospital and University Health Network’s Toronto Western Hospital. A directive went out today to issue hospitals and other acute care setting new personal protective equipment and training requirements.

‘This directive requires that two nurses be required at all times to work with Ebola patients and not to care for any other patient,’ the minister explained.

As of Monday, Ontario’s provincial labs will be able to test Ebola specimens and the Minister will create a formal Advisory Table on Ebola Preparedness.

Starting next week, the Ottawa Hospital will put designated teams through its 20,000 square foot, state-of-the-art simulation centre, with a mechanized dummy that can simulate an Ebola patient.  The hospital will have at least 5 beds available for Ebola patients and more if needed.

CHEO will handle any children with suspected Ebola. 

'We will have a specific designated place,’ says CHEO’s chief of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Lindy Samson, ‘both in the Emergency Department and within the hospital to care for a child if we have suspected or confirmed Ebola and they will be cared for in isolated environment.’

Ottawa paramedics already have protective suits and even a prototype "bubble" suit for a patient.  Now, one of their ambulances will become their next line of defense.

 ‘This is a high risk transfer unit,’ explains Anthony Di Monte, the Chief of Ottawa Paramedic Services, referring to an ambulance behind him, ‘this would be a vehicle that if someone arrives in an outlying hospital and after clinical assessment by a physician, it is determined that he go to a designated hospital, this would be the vehicle in which we would transfer him to the Ottawa Hospital.’