When the Ebola outbreak in the West African country of Guinea hit the news back in December 2013, it was a distant problem in a distant country. Then came the case of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who was diagnosed with the Ebola virus at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas in September 2014.
Suddenly the crisis was in our backyard.
While being one of the first in the U.S. to host the Ebola virus isn’t a distinction any state would want, Texas officials stepped up to the plate and took proactive measures to deal with the potential crisis. Governor Rick Perry created a state task force on infectious diseases to review the state’s medical and public health preparedness. Two bio containment treatment centers are also being built to treat any future Ebola cases, one near Dallas and one near Houston, and Governor Perry has designated The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston as an official Ebola treatment center.
Hospitals across the country are following suit, ramping up training and investing in safety equipment and preparedness. To date, at least 19 cases of Ebola have been treated in the United States and Europe.
It’s an inescapable fact that the Ebola crisis caught us off guard here in the U.S. There are currently only four hospitals in the country that have top-level bio-containment facilities. But as Dr. Brett Giroir of the Texas A&M Health Science Center notes, “This is everybody’s problem.” Much more needs to be done before the country is truly prepared for an epidemic like Ebola.
Could Ebola affect your business?
If you don’t work in the health care or travel industries, it’s not highly likely the Ebola outbreak will directly impact your operations. However, there are a couple of possibilities to keep in mind:
- Consider what could happen if one of your employees contracted the virus. It could quickly turn into a major crisis for your business, with possible workers’ compensation considerations, potential exposure to other employees, disruption to your operations, and a host of added costs.
- If a customer visited your business and was later diagnosed with Ebola, you could face a business interruption exposure. This was probably the case for a New York bowling alley that Dr. Craig Spencer visited prior to being diagnosed. The bowling alley was most likely forced to close for subsequent inspection and decontamination. And, it’s important to note than most business insurance policies exclude losses related to endemic diseases.
How well are you prepared?
What would happen to your bottom line if you were hit with an Ebola crisis? Have your risk management efforts adequately prepared you to decisively handle a catastrophic situation? Are you protecting your business with the right insurance coverage?
If you’re not sure, now is a good time to find out. The team at Higginbotham can help, and we offer a complete solution for all of your safety, loss control, risk management, and insurance needs. Contact us to find out how we can keep you informed, prepared and protected in any crisis.