News and Highlights

September 2014

New Tool Helps Front-line Ebola Treatment Units Function in West Africa


Nathaniel Hupert, MD, MPH
Dr. Nathaniel Hupert

In response to a request from clinical staff in West Africa, Nathaniel Hupert, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Lewis Rubinson, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine, have created a new spreadsheet tool for facilitating daily patient care and data collection in Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs, also called Ebola Treatment Centers) responding to the 2014 Western Africa Ebola outbreak. In prior U.S. government-funded work in resource and spreadsheet modeling, Dr. Hupert and his colleagues in the Cornell Institute for Disease and Disaster Preparedness have contributed numerous tools and reports designed to assist front-line public health and medical staff prepare for and respond to medical emergencies.

The new tool fills a critical need for both tracking clinical information (e.g., laboratory test results) and generating customized patient lists organized by clinic unit with up-to-date results for efficient rounding. Its goal is to enable front-line health care workers to better organize and use patient data and to facilitate effective treatment for suspected, confirmed, and convalescent patients.

Since no electronics are permitted in the "hot zones" where full personal protective equipment (PPE) is required, the tool was made with a printable paper-based interface.  Also since there are no functioning electronic medical records in the hospitals that will use the tool, it had to be made so it could work on a stand-alone basis. The tool has gone through five rounds of testing to insure that it meets real-world needs in the resource-constrained environments in which it will be used. However, its developers are certain that the tool can be improved, and they welcome any enhancements.

The spreadsheet and instructions are now freely available from the website of the Cornell Institute for Disease and Disaster Preparedness, located in the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research, Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City, NY,

If users of this tool would be willing to share with the developers any summary, non-PHI clinical operational data collected via its use (e.g., length of stay by ward and/or by patient outcome), this will greatly enhance ongoing efforts to accurately forecast upcoming logistical requirements for the outbreak. Furthermore, if users have the ability to link unit-based patient care to specific quantities of PPE required, that information also would be most valuable for quantitative logistical planning. Please see details on and contact Dr. Hupert ( for further information.

Dr. Hupert's and Dr. Rubinson's Ebola tool was featured in a WCMC news release. Dr. Hupert was also quoted on a page 1 story in the Wall Street Journal about the Ebola patient in Texas.


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