Background: The 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak is the largest in history. After two healthcare workers contracted Ebola while caring for a patient in a U.S. hospital, CDC launched into action and leveraged a diverse group of partners to provide training to U.S. healthcare workers using a multi-faceted approach. Challenges existed in rapidly launching a comprehensive training program including different levels of preparedness between facilities and variations in healthcare providers’ current training level and role during the response. CDC needed tailored guidance and educational resources for each setting and provider type.
Program background: CDC and partners worked collaboratively to provide training to U.S. healthcare workers using a multi-faceted approach, including:
- Web-based tools such as how-to videos and job aides (e.g., algorithms, checklists)
- Daily webinars and conference calls with healthcare providers
- Resources on clinician-specific websites such as Medscape
- Mobile-friendly training applications for real-time accessibility
- In-person training through live events
- In-depth clinical training through experts at Emory University Hospital and Nebraska Medical Center
Evaluation Methods and Results: CDC worked through a diverse group of partners to create and provide training opportunities, including: professional partners, healthcare unions, public-private partnerships, and academic institutions. By leveraging these strategic partners, CDC was able to provide more than 150 webinars and conference calls, reaching more than 150,000 healthcare workers. CDC online training resources were viewed more than 862,000 times for more than 6,470 hours of training viewed. CDC also partnered with Partnership for Quality Care and numerous healthcare unions to conduct live training events in New York City, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, reaching more than 6,500 individuals in-person, and over 20,000 via live webcast. Additionally, CDC, Emory University Hospital, and Nebraska Medical Center, trained more than 460 healthcare workers from 87 healthcare systems, including 37 designated Ebola treatment centers, on all aspects of infection control and patient care for individuals with Ebola. CDC also provided real-time, easily accessible guidance on the web. CDC’s Ebola healthcare worker webpages (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/healthcare-us/index.html), which feature training videos and materials, were rapidly redesigned after usability testing to better disseminate valuable guidelines and training information. These webpages were viewed more than 7.5 million times in 2014 alone.
Conclusions: As the Ebola cases overseas decline, it is crucial to build upon the lessons learned from the Ebola response to improve infection control in U.S. healthcare facilities and sustain infection control training capacity for future infectious disease events. The rapid and multi-faceted approach developed by CDC and strategic partners during the Ebola response could serve as a model for future public health crises.
Implications for research and/or practice: Training such as what was conducted during the Ebola response will not only be helpful for preparing for emerging threats, it will also help promote infection control practices that can address endemic threats in U.S. healthcare facilities.