Public health chief to lead state’s Ebola team

The head of Georgia’s public health agency will chair Gov. Nathan Deal’s 13-member Ebola response team. Her appointment and those of the other members were announced Monday.

Joining Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, a physician and commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, are two health leaders from Emory Healthcare.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald
Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald

Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, was the first American facility to receive an Ebola patient and has treated four. Three have already recovered and been released. (The third was released Sunday after being determined to be free of the virus, Emory announced Monday.) The fourth patient, a recently infected Texas nurse, arrived at Emory just last week.

The Emory officials on the team are Dr. William Bornstein, chief quality and medical officer at Emory Healthcare, and Susan Grant, chief nurse executive at Emory.

The Deal response team will assess current health and emergency management procedures and formulate recommendations to minimize the potential impact of Ebola in Georgia.

“Those that have been chosen to serve on the panel are leaders in their respective fields, and I’m confident that their combined talents and experience will allow them to effectively examine state preparedness and provide all necessary recommendations,” said Deal in a statement. “An informed public and a prepared group of first responders and health care professionals can save lives.”

Other members of the response team are Frederick Quinn, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Georgia; Charley English, director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency; and Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth, adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard.

Miguel Southwell
Miguel Southwell

It also includes Miguel Southwell, general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which has begun screening incoming passengers from West Africa for Ebola symptoms; and the chief operating officer of the City of Atlanta, Michael Geisler.

Other members are Scott Kroell, CEO of Liberty Regional Medical Center in Hinesville; Courtney Terwilliger, chairman of the Georgia Association of Emergency Medical Services; Brenda Rowe, associate professor of the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing at Mercer University; Jody Barrow, superintendent of Fayette County Schools and president of the Georgia School Superintendent Association; and Dr. Doug Patten, chief medical officer at the Georgia Hospital Association.

Ebola is a viral disease that became epidemic this year in three West African countries — Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia — where public health systems had largely collapsed. Its spread outside this “hot zone” has been scant so far, but nations around the world have ramped up their preparedness.

Separately on Monday, Emory Healthcare said it has launched a website that will serve as a resource for health care organizations on best practices for safe and effective screening, diagnosis and treatment for patients with Ebola.

The new website, with the ability to freely download information, is publicly available at