Are We Really Ready for Ebola? The Nurses’ Union Perspective

National Nurses United (‘NNU’) began surveying its members a few weeks ago about Ebola preparedness in the U.S. Here are some of the highlights (or, perhaps, lowlights; boldface mine):

In updated preliminary results from nearly 700 RNs at over 250 hospitals in 31 states released Friday:

  • 80 percent say their hospital has not communicated to them any policy regarding potential admission of patients infected by Ebola
  • 87 percent say their hospital has not provided education on Ebola with the ability for the nurses to interact and ask questions
  • One-third say their hospital has insufficient supplies of eye protection (face shields or side shields with goggles) and fluid resistant/impermeable gowns
  • Nearly 40 percent say their hospital does not have plans to equip isolation rooms with plastic covered mattresses and pillows and discard all linens after use, less than 10 percent said they were aware their hospital does have such a plan in place
  • More than 60 percent say their hospital fails to reduce the number of patients they must care for to accommodate caring for an “isolation” patient

Here’s what the NNU recommends:

  • Full training of hospital personnel along with proper protocols and training materials for responding to outbreaks,
  • Adequate supplies of Hazmat suits and other personal protective equipment
  • Properly equipped isolation rooms to assure patient, visitor and staff safety
  • Sufficient staffing to supplement nurses and other health workers who need to care for patients in isolation.

As the NNU notes, there are concrete, specific things we can do, as opposed to engaging in the fantasy that we can ‘close our borders’ (people got through the Iron Curtain in the Checkpoint Charlie days; good luck with ‘closing our borders’).

These are problems we should be fixing now.

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3 Responses to Are We Really Ready for Ebola? The Nurses’ Union Perspective

  1. Iaato says:

    Thanks. No, we’re not ready, and hospitals would be quickly overwhelmed. This is what we should be doing:

  2. coloncancercommunity says:

    If there is anything positive that can come out of this nonsense is that public health has to be funded. As with the CDC and the WHO and the NIH the hospitals seems to think one person can do the job of four people without enough supplies or support. The Ebola outbreak airs this dirty laundry for all to see. Programs have been gutted, hospitals are making do with much less. Then people wonder why the response seems sloppy, uncoordinated and unprofessional.

    Of course I’m hoping that an Ebola outbreak might actually lead those in power to do something for the commons that makes some sense. I guess I’m smoking some pretty strong stuff.

  3. anthrosciguy says:

    The problem is that public health doesn’t have to be funded (it should be funded). Since conservatives argue that government cannot do things right, if this isn’t done right they’ll use it as proof that government health care initiatives can’t work so therefore public health care should be cut.

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