Health News

Rep. Vern Buchanan tours new isolation unit at Sarasota Memorial Hospital

SARASOTA -- Sticking to his position that the U.S should ban travelers from Ebola-ravaged West Africa, U.S Rep. Vern Buchanan on Friday toured Sarasota Memorial Hospital's new Ebola unit.

Buchanan said he was impressed that the Sarasota hospital decided to transform a former critical care unit where open heart surgery patients once recovered into a nine-room isolation pod just for possible Ebola patients.

"I think the thing (Ebola) has evolved and that we should be concerned but not paralyzed," Buchanan said, reflecting Sarasota Memorial's proactive action.

In the wake of nurses contracting Ebola, Buchanan said he wanted to come to the hospital to see if it needed anything from him to combat Ebola, which has not entered Florida, according to hospital officials.

"I feel good about what I have seen here but I will be relentless, making sure we will get what we need in the Sarasota-Manatee area," Buchanan said.

Buchanan said people need to not worry to excess but be vigilant.

"When 60 to 70 percent of those afflicted are dying you have to be concerned" he said.

Buchanan said he didn't know the person President Barack Obama appointed as his Ebola "czar" Friday, but he applauded the move.

His most strident comments were on air travel.

"I think banning air travel from the three countries in West Africa where a lot of people are infected just makes sense," Buchanan said.

Buchanan said vaccinations against Ebola is a promising solution that he will try to help along.

"I will do everything I can to accelerate vaccinations," Buchanan said.

Buchanan also took an interest in what the hospital is doing differently regarding protective gear.

"Our nurses told us in a meeting that they want to wear full HAZMAT gear that completely covers them from head to toe," said Jan Mauck, chief nursing officer for Sarasota Memorial Health Care System.

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