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NEW HAVEN Conn. (Reuters) - At least two Connecticut university nursing programs have stopped sending student nurses to work in the emergency room of a New Haven hospital where a patient was admitted last week with Ebola-like symptoms but tested negative for the virus.
Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University said on Monday they were suspending their programs at Yale-New Haven Hospital, while Fairfield went a step further and stopped sending students to work clinical shifts at the medical center.
"While there has been no exposure to our students, our School of Nursing will be taking the proactive step of temporarily suspending clinical rotations at Yale New Haven Hospital,” Fairfield said in an emailed statement.
The patient was one of two Yale University graduate epidemiology students who traveled to Liberia last month to advise the health ministry on using computers to track Ebola, Laurence Grotheer, a spokesman for New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, said last week.
Yale University earlier said the students had not traveled into areas in Liberia where Ebola was present. Tests on the patient proved to be negative.
The current Ebola outbreak has already killed more than 4,500 people, mostly in Liberia and two other West African countries. Only one death in the United States has been attributed to Ebola, while two Dallas nurses who treated that patient are now being treated for the virus.
Mary Alice Donius, director of Sacred Heart's School of Nursing, said in an email on Monday the university would stop sending trainee nurses to the emergency room for now "to keep students and faculty safe until all information was known."
Sacred Heart had suspended clinical rotations as well but resumed them when the tests on the patient proved negative.
The school would make a decision on resuming the full program when "further information becomes available," she said.
When asked why the universities were suspending the programs even though there was no apparent danger of infections, Mark D'Antonio, media coordinator at Yale-New Haven Hospital, said: "I have no idea."
He said the hospital would defer comment to the universities.
Writing By Frank McGurty