10 23 2014 Ebola Protocols - UPDATED

3:02pm | Thursday, October 23, 2014

To: The Rensselaer Community
From: Leslie S. Lawrence, MD, Medical Director, Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute;
Prabhat Hajela, Ph.D., Provost, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute;
Curtis Powell, Vice President for Human Resources, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Date: October 23, 2014
Re: Ebola Protocols - UPDATED

There is a significant amount of information---both accurate and inaccurate---about the current cases of Ebola virus in West Africa and certain locations in the United States. This is to update you on activities taking place at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to ensure that the correct information is being disseminated, that the best practices are followed to prevent exposure to Ebola, and to prepare for a suspected case of Ebola should one appear on campus.

As a reminder, Ebola is not an airborne virus and cannot be spread through casual contact. It can be contracted only through direct contact with bodily fluids such as the blood or vomit of an infected patient. This includes soiled items that were in contact with an infected patient.

Student Health Services is actively monitoring the information, protocols, and treatment recommendations being communicated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (www.cdc.gov) and the New York State Department of Health (DOH) (www.health.ny.gov). These guidelines may change, and we will review and implement recommendations as we receive them. We ask that you take all recommended precautionary measures, and use your best judgment, as the situation progresses. It is important that we act responsibly as a community in order to protect the Rensselaer community. The existing protocols we are implementing immediately are as follows:

1. STUDENTS: We are suspending our student educational programs with all countries listed on the CDC website (www.cdc.gov) as a travel warning or watch, as well as countries surrounding the CDC listed countries (see below). No student travel to these countries on university business is permitted.

* Students whose homes are in the impacted countries should contact
the Dean of Students, Mark Smith, at (smithm@rpi.edu) or (518)
276-6266 before traveling. Students who have traveled to, or
through, a listed country must be cleared by the Student Health
Center before returning to our campuses.

* Travel for personal reasons is strongly discouraged, including
travel that may transit in listed areas. If you still plan on
traveling to, or through, those regions, you must contact the Dean
of Students, as outlined above.

2. FACULTY AND STAFF: Faculty and staff travel for university business to countries listed below is suspended until further notice, as is using airports in those regions as transit points. Since university business travel is required to use Concur, Rensselaer will flag travel to or through the countries listed below. (See Note 1 at end of memo.)

* Travel for personal reasons is strongly discouraged, including
travel that may transit in listed areas. If you still plan on
traveling to, or through, those regions, you are expected to obtain
approval from the Provost, Prabhat Hajela (hajelap@rpi.edu) and/or
the Vice President for Human Resources, Curtis N. Powell
(powelc2@rpi.edu).

* Any faculty or staff member, or longer term visitor who has traveled
to, or through, a listed country must be cleared by the Rensselaer
occupational physician before returning to our campuses.

3. VISITORS (See Note 2 at end of memo): Proposed visits to either the Troy or Hartford campus by anyone, either from identified countries or who has traveled to, or through, a listed country, should be strongly discouraged at this time.

* Rensselaer faculty or staff planning a Troy or Hartford campus visit
by a person either from the identified countries or who has traveled
to, or through, a listed country must contact the Provost and/or the
Vice President for Human Resources, as outlined above.

* Students planning a Troy or Hartford campus visit by a person either
from the identified countries or who has traveled to, or through, a
listed country must contact the Dean of Students, as outlined above.

* Before coming onto campus, all such visitors must disclose where
they have been and must complete a screening questionnaire that will
be provided either by the Rensselaer Medical Director or the
Rensselaer occupational physician.

* All such visitors must be cleared by a Rensselaer medical
professional prior to coming onto campus. Such visitors should
contact the Student Health Center at (518) 276-6287.

Rensselaer reserves the right to restrict access to our campuses by all travelers, including visitors, upon their return to the U.S. from the countries listed below, irrespective of the CDC guidelines.

Consistent with CDC and DOH recommendations to date, the Student Health Center has placed emphasis on ensuring that proper screening is conducted on ANY student, employee, or faculty member presenting with Ebola-like symptoms. The student, employee, or faculty member would then be screened for recent travel history, and proper initial isolation precautions will be taken in the event of a suspected case.

Any member of the Rensselaer community who believes s/he may have been exposed to Ebola will need to be properly screened, consistent with CDC and DOH recommendations. Screening will be conducted by telephone as follows:

* Students will be screened by telephone by the Student Health
Center. Concerned students should call (518) 276-6287.

* Faculty and staff will be screened by telephone by Human Resources
and may be referred to the Rensselaer occupational
physician. Concerned faculty and staff should call (518) 276-6302.

* Visitors must complete a questionnaire and call the Student Health
Center (518) 276-6287.

Based on CDC and World Health Organization (www.who.org) predictions about the spread of Ebola into neighboring countries, Rensselaer is currently restricting travel to the following countries (See Note 3 at end of memo):

* Guinea
* Guinea-Bissau
* Sierra Leone
* Mali
* Liberia
* Senegal
* Democratic Republic of the Congo
* The Gambia
* Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
* Benin
* Ghana
* Togo
* Burkina Faso

We want to stress that we firmly believe Ebola can be effectively managed in the United States, and that a large outbreak in the U.S. is extremely unlikely. The actions outlined above will help to significantly decrease the risk of Ebola to the Rensselaer campus community.

Please contact the Student Health Center via the online web form found at http://studenthealth.rpi.edu/contact.php (select "Ebola" as the Subject Line) or if you have further questions or concerns. Please visit the Rensselaer website (http://www.rpi.edu/ebola) for up-to-date information.

Note 1---For travel that is reimbursed or otherwise covered by a third party, we will follow the guidelines indicated for personal travel.

Note 2---Visitors to the Rensselaer campuses are defined as anyone who is not a Rensselaer student, faculty, or staff member.

Note 3---Rensselaer reserves the right to change this list of restricted countries.