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.