Ebola has been in the news quite a bit lately – mostly for how the Center’s for Disease Control has completely mismanaged the entire situation. Although a virus like the flu kills far more people each year, Ebola has a far higher death ratio. Getting the disease under control is necessary yet it seems like the government branch responsible for that is not in control at all – here is one nurse’s thoughts on how the CDC has completely mishandled the entire Ebola debacle in the United States.
Nine Ways The CDC Mishandled Ebola In The United States
1. Misleading The Public
First the President of the United States comes out and says that, ebola “is hard to transmit” and that the “chances of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is extremely low.” Which, while that might be true that it’s hard to catch (unless you’re a healthcare worker), the CDC directer has another story stating, “stopping ebola is hard” and to expect more cases in Dallas, Texas. Well, which one is it? Is it hard to catch or is it hard to stop? I guess it just depends if you work in healthcare or not.
2. What’s The Deal With No Travel Ban?
I’m sorry, but one of the government’s (and especially the CDC’s) job is to protect the United States citizens. So what exactly is the deal with not imposing a travel ban on people coming into the country from Ebola stricken nations? The CDC director claims that a travel ban would actually make the disease easier to spread and “harder to contain.” How? I’m not too sure. The CDC director claims that barring travel into West African countries could hurt the efforts to help people in Africa. There’s just one thing, nobody is talking about keeping people out of Africa – or even keeping flights of healthcare professionals from going to Africa to help. They’re talking about keeping people from coming INTO the United States. The CDC director should learn the difference between all of that. Especially as the World Health Organization is saying that the current outbreak could lead to up to ten thousand new cases each week.
3. A Breach Of Protocol? Wait, What Protocol?
In another one of the CDC director, Thomas Friedan’s mundane statements after learning that a registered nurse had contracted Ebola he stated, “it was a breach of protocol” that led to the nurse contracting the deadly disease. He vowed that the CDC would find out just how the nurse had contracted the virus, especially since she was wearing “full protective gear.” Well there’s just one thing…
4. Not Providing Adequate Protective GearI’m sorry, but whenever you see the CDC on television handling people with Ebola or even cleaning Thomas Duncan’s apartment (the first person to be diagnosed with the disease in the U.S.), CDC workers are wearing full on hazmat suits. Nurses on the other hand, were left to wear paper gowns which left parts of their bodies exposed. This forced the nurses to cover up their necks with medical tape. Desuitting from hazmat suits is a meticulous process, one that requires bleach or chemical spray downs. I couldn’t imagine having to peal tape off my neck. In one bout of diarrhea, an Ebola patient can lose up to two liters of bodily fluid. Let’s be real here, it’s not a shocker that a nurse came down with the disease given the lack of preparation and inadequate training. Let’s not forget, Dallas Presbyterian’s housekeeping department wasn’t sure what to do with the linens. There’s nothing like stepping into a patient’s room while having to deal with soiled linen all over the place as well. Which leads me to…
5. Blaming The Nurses
Ah, yes, it’s just something as simple as saying, it’s your fault when things go wrong. Well, I’m pretty sure the CDC director himself wouldn’t have step foot in conditions like that. To him it appears nurses are just an expendable part of the healthcare system whose lives don’t matter. It’s embarrassing that the CDC had to backtrack on it’s original statement once nurses across the country voiced their opinions.
6. We’re Sorry We Didn’t Take Things More Seriously
Yeah, it turns out lapses in protocol lasted for days. All the Dallas hospital has to say is, “sorry.” It’s easy to have a lapse in protocol for days when there was no protocol to begin with.
7. Why Wasn’t Duncan Transferred?
I almost feel sorry for the Dallas hospital in a way. This event could have happened to just about any hospital in the entire country. I know it could have easily happened to the one I work at. The truth is there are only four hospitals with specialized isolation units in the entire United States. What comes along with those four hospitals is an adequately trained staff who is more than capable of handling care of patients who have come down with the deadly disease. As the head of one of the largest nursing unions points out, the whole entire situation is “a disaster waiting to happen.”
8. And Then There Was This Guy
Ron Klain, the new Ebola Czar. That one guy who is to oversee everything and make sure everyone is “crossing all the T’s and dotting the I’s.” According to the President, they weren’t looking for an Ebola expert, but rather an implementation expert. Well, I’m sure glad they picked someone with no medical background, especially with no experience on infectious disease. Hey, isn’t this what the CDC is for?
9. Constantly Changing Guidelines
Again, the CDC wears full hazmat suits leaving no open skin available to risk the transmission of the deadly disease onto staff. Yet, the first nurse who contracted the disease was told that she had a “breach of protocol.” Well, what is the hospital staff supposed to know what to do when the “protocols” are constantly changing. It wasn’t actually until October 20th (weeks after the initial care of Duncan) that the CDC actually came out and stated they recommend new hospital guidelines that state the healthcare workers caring for the patients should be completely covered up. You would think that the CDC would know enough about the disease to recommend this type of protection for healthcare workers to begin with. Or maybe they’re just trying to avoid a lawsuit? In any case, the CDC better shape up and hospitals need to hold training sessions for all nurses who could have the possibility of interacting with patients who might have a deadly infectious disease. Otherwise, we’re just bound to repeat the same mistake.