An Update on Georgetown's Ebola Preparedness

November 3, 2014

To the Faculty, Students and Staff of Georgetown University

Dear Members of the Georgetown Community:

I am writing to provide you with an update on the University’s response and planning related to the global Ebola crisis and to reiterate the importance of cooperation by all members of our University community. Georgetown officials, in consultation with the D.C. Department of Health and health care professionals, have been working to ensure preparedness across all of our campuses. As part of our ongoing emergency preparedness protocols, we have been engaged in a multi-partner effort to ensure that we are ready in the unlikely event of a case of Ebola on our campus or in our area.

We are a community of great complexities—our campuses in Washington, D.C. span the city, we have a campus on the other side of the world, our members live and travel across the globe in pursuit of their scholarship and research, we receive visitors from all over the world, we share a footprint with a hospital, and we share a home in Washington with many other global institutions. As such, we have been working closely with strategic partners in our preparedness efforts, including MedStar Health, which operates MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, and the D.C. Department of Health, to ensure that we have a coordinated response plan with clear roles and responsibilities.

We are grateful to be guided in this work by our health professionals here at Georgetown, including Dr. James C. Welsh, who heads our Student Health Services, and who has led our previous efforts in response to Norovirus, H1N1 and other infectious diseases. We are also fortunate to have the consultation of Dr. Jesse Goodman, who served as Chief Scientist for the FDA from 2009-2014, where he led its public health preparedness and medical countermeasures efforts, including the response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, and who now serves on our Georgetown faculty.

Last week, a broad group of our University leadership, representing a cross-section of operational and academic areas, participated in a tabletop exercise focused on the various components of our response should there be an Ebola case at or near Georgetown University. MedStar Health and the D.C. Department of Health joined in the exercise, which was facilitated by an expert who helped us to identify areas for further development and preparation. The tabletop exercise generated a number of good ideas to further enhance our preparedness, and implementation of these recommendations is already underway.

We have also been coordinating with fellow members of the Consortium of Universities in the District of Columbia to share insights and best practices, especially as they relate to our shared identities as residential campuses, and to collaborate on our preparedness efforts.

We ask for the participation of our entire community in ensuring that we are all educated and prepared in the event of a case of Ebola at or near Georgetown University. As we have previously announced, Georgetown, in line with travel advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has issued a temporary moratorium on all University-sponsored and University-related travel for students, faculty, and staff to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. We are also requiring students, faculty and staff to contact Joseph Yohe, Associate Vice President for Risk Management at 202-687-6622 or joseph.yohe@georgetown.edu, before coming/returning to campus, if they:

  • plan to travel to these countries for personal reasons;
  • have recently traveled to these countries;
  • are considering bringing visitors to campus who have recently been in these countries; or
  • have had direct exposure to a person known to have an Ebola infection.

More information on these policies can be found on our Office of Global Services website.

I encourage you to educate yourselves by visiting the CDC’s website on the Ebola outbreak. We will continue to keep you apprised of our ongoing preparedness efforts here at Georgetown.

Sincerely,

John J. DeGioia