R.I. Higher Education commissioner outlines measures being taken in relation to Ebola

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Officials at URI, RIC, CCRI, collaborating, monitoring national, regional reports

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – October 21, 2014 – Officials at the state’s public institutions of higher education continue to monitor national and regional reports on Ebola and are collaborating to ensure that training and screening protocols are in place, the state commissioner of Higher Education announced today.

Commissioner Jim Purcell met Thursday with health, student affairs, emergency management and business affairs representatives from the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and Community College of Rhode Island to discuss planning and potential response relating to Ebola.

“Those with expertise at URI, RIC and CCRI are working together to make their communities aware of the steps they can take to remain healthy,” Purcell said. “They also remain in regular contact with the Rhode Island Department of Health for updates.”

Each institution is also reviewing its emergency action and communication plans.

Since URI and RIC are the only public institutions with residential populations offering campus clinical health services, they have put in place specific training and screening procedures. Health Services staff at URI’s Kingston campus and RIC’s Providence campus are screening students who present with fever for travel history or known contact with someone who has a travel history to Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone within the past 21 days. Clinical staff members, including URI Emergency Medical Services, are prepared to implement standard infection control precautions using personal protective equipment appropriate for their settings, should they have a suspected case.

“At URI, our top priority is the safety and health of our students, faculty and staff,” said President David M. Dooley. “Fortunately, critical personnel across the University have been previously trained by national and state agencies in emergency response and communications. While Ebola has devastated West Africa, and is now causing deep concern in this country, our professionals in Health Services, Public Safety and Student Affairs are responding with additional training for campus health and public safety personnel, and will continue to collaborate with public and private institutions across Rhode Island to ensure the best possible response for all of our communities.”

“Rhode Island College is coordinating with the Department of Health and the other public higher education institutions to ensure that our responses to any potential Ebola case is in line with the current state and federal guidance for college campuses,” said RIC President Nancy Carriuolo.

“We all want to be prepared,” said CCRI President Ray Di Pasquale. “It’s important not to overreact, but we want to make sure that we do everything possible to keep the CCRI community safe and fully aware. We will continue to work in tandem with our colleagues in higher education and the state to keep our constituents informed. Communication is key, and we have already provided our community with links to national and state websites containing the most up-to-date information about Ebola. Student Services, governance committees and health personnel at CCRI are responding and as always, the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is our number one concern.”