Even though St. Patrick Hospital has an officially approved facility for handling patients with the Ebola virus, Marshall Bloom with Rocky Mountain Labs in Hamilton said this week that all well-equipped medical facilities can safely handle these highly contagious diseases, including Missoula Community Medical Center.

Infection Control Coordinator and Registered Nurse Pamela Whitney said the staff at Community Medical Center has been trained and prepared to treat any patients who may be infected with the Ebola virus, or any highly communicable disease.

"Contact precautions are what you need to protect yourself against this disease, and here at Community we know how to institute contact precautions," Whitney said. "Our staff knows to put on gowns, put on gloves and masks if needed, if the patient is coughing up blood and they need to protect themselves."

Whitney said Community is also prepared should the Ebola virus mutate and become airborne.

"If Ebola were to escalate or mutate and become airborne, we have 10 negative-pressure rooms ," she said. "These are rooms specially set up for communicable diseases like tuberculosis, so I feel confident that we can absolutely care for a patient who's been diagnosed with that, and protect our staff at the same time."

Whitney said she was confident the disease would not spread once the patient was safely admitted to the hospital.

"My expectation is that no one would be exposed and this wouldn't be spread at this point," Whitney said. "Now, what happened before they got to the emergency room we won't know until the department of public health does their investigation."