Originally published October 30 2014
92% of nurses say their hospital has no plans in place to properly equip isolation rooms during Ebola outbreak
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) A national nursing union says it has been hearing from healthcare professionals all around the country since the Dallas Ebola outbreak, and most say their hospitals are simply not equipped or prepared to handle anyone who may contract the disease.
National Nurses United, which held a conference call with nurses recently to discuss the outbreak and hospital and staff preparedness, said it has been fielding calls from RNs around the country who have been voicing such concerns. The conference call occurred after one nurse, Nina Pham, 26, of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, contracted the disease while treating the first Ebola patient diagnosed on U.S. soil, Thomas Eric Duncan. Another nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, has since tested positive for the disease as well.
According to a press release from the organization, the NNU has called on all hospitals to enact "the highest standard of optimal protection," which includes keeping HAZMAT suits on hand and bolstering hands-on training to protect nurses and healthcare staff if they have to deal with patients who have Ebola.
'There is no standard short of optimal protection'
The group said more than 4,000 RNs had signed up to participate in the conference call, which provided them with an opportunity to ask questions and discuss what their hospitals were or were not doing to improve safety for their hospital staff and for patients, as well as the communities they serve.
"There is no standard short of optimal in protective equipment and hands-on-training that is acceptable," said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, which is the largest U.S. organization of nurses.
"Nurses and other frontline hospital personnel must have the highest level of protective equipment, such as the Hazmat suits Emery University or the CDC themselves use while transporting patients and hands on training and drills for all RNs and other hospital personnel including the practice putting on and taking off the optimal equipment," DeMoro said. "The time to act is long overdue."
By October 14, the organization said, more than 2,300 registered nurses at 780 facilities in 46 states and Washington, D.C., had responded to a NNU national survey regarding Ebola and Ebola preparedness.
Most report their hospital and staff are not equipped to deal with Ebola
- Of respondents, 85 percent said their hospital had yet to provide adequate education about the deadly virus or a forum in which they could interact and ask questions about it, "a percentage that remains largely unchanged."
- While 40 percent said their hospital had inadequate supplies of eye protection such as face shields or side shields with goggles for daily use on their floor or in their unit, another 38 percent said there were insufficient supplies of fluid-resistant or impermeable gowns in their institutions, and "both numbers are increasing as more survey results come in," NNU said.
- 41 percent said their facility had no plans to outfit isolation rooms with plastic-covered mattresses and pillows or discard all linens after use on Ebola patients. Moreover, just 8 percent said they were aware of any plans in place by their hospital.
"NNU is calling for all U.S. hospitals to immediately implement a full emergency preparedness plan for Ebola, or other disease outbreaks," said the press release. Those measures should include:
- Full training of hospital personnel, along with proper protocols and training materials for responding to outbreaks, with the ability for nurses to interact and ask questions.
- Adequate supplies of Hazmat suits and other personal protective equipment.
- Properly equipped isolation rooms to assure patient, visitor, and staff safety.
- Proper procedures for disposal of medical waste and linens after use.
Also, the organization called for dramatic increases in "provision of aid, financial, personnel, and protective equipment" from the United States and other governments as well as private corporate interests to all nations in West Africa that are being ravaged by the current Ebola outbreak, to help get the disease under control and stop its spread.
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