One South Mississippi university is taking steps to ease any fears over the spread of Ebola. This month, William Carey University crafted its own Ebola response plan. The plan raises awareness about the disease and how it can help reduce the risks on both campuses.
As students and faculty at William Carey University are taking precautions against the flu virus this season, they're also learning about another deadly virus: Ebola.
"We have had several discussions throughout both campuses for students and faculty alike. That focus was to disseminate information, primarily from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization and try to alleviate some fear," said WCU Assistant Professor of Nursing Matt Gatlin.
Flyers about Ebola are posted around campus and extra hand sanitizers are now available in every building, cafeteria and other areas where groups of people gather. These precautionary measures are part of the school's "Ebola Awareness and Prevention Plan". The plan also addresses international students who don't plan on traveling over the upcoming holidays.
"We're going to allow housing throughout the William Carey breaks and holidays for international students who wish not to travel and want to stay in the United States," said Gatlin.
And there are guidelines regarding students and staff who take educational or mission trips overseas.
"We're trying to discourage any travel to known infected areas. With that increased education that they have, hopefully, they will abide by it, and if necessary we will help and assist and direct their monitoring once they return from abroad," said Gatlin.
"If we know that a student or international student especially has returned from an area that could potentially be infected, we're going to contact that student and also provide information and refer that student to the necessary health care facilities," he added.
That's reassuring news for students, even though they realize the risk of infection is very low.
"It feels better to know that our university's going to take the precautions to step in and not let any kind of situation arise. They're going to prevent it. I feel very proud to be part of a school that is being proactive about it. It's very good to know that our university cares that much about our health," said Pre-Nursing student Hayley Brady.
"We have a College of Medicine. We have a School of Nursing; therefore, it's imperative we display that role and role model throughout all of our campuses. It just makes me very proud to know we're able to do this for our students," said Gatlin.
William Carey is also looking at purchasing protective gear to train its nursing and medical students on how to properly suit up and safely treat patients.