Hospitals discuss Ebola online—even when they don’t have the patients

A disease running rampant in West Africa reaches the U.S. The public is alarmed, and misinformation is spreading. Time to lie low? These organizations say no.

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The city of Akron, Ohio, experienced an outbreak of panic in October after the media revealed that a Dallas nurse had flown into Akron just before she was diagnosed with Ebola.

One school closed because a student’s mother had had contact with the nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, and people were shunning businesses Vinson had visited.

As Akron Children’s Hospital prepared for the remote possibility of an Ebola patient, communicators considered a question: Should they address the disease online? After all, nobody wanted to leave the false impression the hospital was treating a case.

Akron Children’s went ahead and published Facebook posts and two articles, one of them titled “How to talk to your kids about Ebola.” Thus the hospital joined others nationwide in offering online and social media content about Ebola—even though they weren’t actually treating anyone suffering from the West African disease.

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