Doctors at Univ. of Kansas Hospital encouraged by patient’s negative Ebola test

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Encouraging news was revealed Tuesday afternoon from preliminary test results here in the metro as experts fight Ebola around the world. The World Health Organization says the death rate for Ebola is now at 70 percent.

And we could start seeing as many as 10,000 new cases every week around the globe. While doctors at The University of Kansas Hospital say preliminary tests for their patient are negative, they will not definitely say he does not have the disease.

Two blood samples were sent out. Tuesday’s results came from a lab in Omaha. Doctors are waiting for the results of the sample also sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to be returned. It is a more sensitive test and doctors consider those results finals. However, they are calling this a gratifying day.

"Big sigh of relief from him and those that love him and care for him,” said Doctor Lee Norman, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Hospital.

The first hurdle has been cleared, but the medical staff treating the man suspected of possibly having Ebola is not backing off their procedures until they are absolutely certain he is not infected with the deadly virus. That probability doctors call “highly unlikely.”

"I'm just going to be glad when the next result comes in and, knock on wood on his behalf, I hope it’s negative,” Dr. Norman said.

Another gratifying part of the day is how the staff is handling this extraordinary case according to Dr. Norman.

"After now in our second 24 hours with the patient the staff are calm, the procedures and all the infection control measures that we put into place are just setting in to a new routine in many regards,” Dr. Norman said.

Bessie Gray, a nurse at Research Medical Center, spoke on behalf of National Nurses United, a national nurse's union. She says while the staff at some hospitals feels safe, 85 percent of nurses across the country do not feel they have the one-on-one training or equipment to deal with suspected Ebola cases.

"We are nurses. We are not the hazmat team, but that is a piece of it that we need. We need to have more time to work with the hazmat gear that is being provided for,” Gray said. "I don't feel and they do not feel that we are properly trained to take care of Ebola patients.”

Dr. Norman says it’s difficult to gauge exactly when and how many people to train in this instance.

"There is kind of a sweet spot where if you train everybody up, it’s too soon. And if you wait, back to the 85% question of the nurses around the country that feel they are not quite comfortable with it, that's too late. Knowing what they sweet spot there is awfully hard to know," he explained.

Doctors say the man here at The University of Kansas Hospital most likely has another tropical disease, but are not testing him for other diseases.