The first healthcare professional to contract Ebola in the U.S. has been identified as Nina Pham, a 26-year-old nurse in Dallas, TX. Ebola has been causing a whirlwind of worries now that it has been spread inside our home country. It is shocking that now Pham and the nurse assistant in Madrid have so quickly gone from caretakers to patients from this frightening illness. And, it brings up some major concerns. How much do we know about Ebola safety precautions? And, how much are hospitals training our healthcare professionals to handle this?
CNN reported a shocking statistic from a survey of 1,900 nurses where they found 76 percent of the hospitals they were employed in failed to communicate any sort of protocols for receiving inpatients that were infected with Ebola! And 85 percent said their hospital has not educated nurses about Ebola, with the chance to ask questions, according to the Dallas Morning News.
National Nurses United, the largest union for nurses in the U.S., is pushing for more education, equipment and training in the midst of this pandemic infection. Pham contracted Ebola from Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who contracted the disease in Liberia and later died in the Dallas hospital where she worked. The CDC is concerned with how patients are entering the hospitals. Employees in the front-lines are clearly are at a higher risk of infection. Additionally, despite Pham wearing the protective gloves, mask, and shield; the CDC reported some inconsistencies in her use of the safety garb. In order to keep hospital employees safe, we should focus on how Pham contracted it.
What could have caused nurse Nina Pham’s infection?
Pham is currently receiving blood transfusions from an Ebola survivor. As the reportedly “clinically stable” nurse fights for her life, our entire country needs to know how she contracted the deadly infection. The Center for Disease Control is investigating how she removed her protective clothing. It is possible that during the process, Duncan’s infected fluid may have been on her precautionary gloves, mask, or shield and then was transferred onto her. Now, the CDC is pushing for spotters to observe hospital employees removal of protective ware to ensure they are using the proper procedures.
“When you have potentially soiled or contaminated gloves or masks or other things, to remove those without any risk of any contaminated material … touching you and being then on your clothes or face or skin … is not easy to do right,” said Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC.
Pham’s apartment complex has been decontaminated and all the neighbors have been alerted via reverse 911 calls. Also, even Pham’s beloved dog, Bentley, has been quarantined. The brave nurse has even been able to post socially about her pet’s precautionary care. However, it is unknown how canines react to Ebola. Although, the treatment for an Ebola-stricken dog is far different than the dog of the nurse’s aid in Spain who was swiftly put to death after the owner contracted the disease.
A National Nurses United press release from October 13th said the following:
“As of Monday afternoon, 2,200 RNs at more 750 facilities in 46 states and the District of Columbia have responded to the NNU national survey.
Current findings show:
- 85 percent say their hospital has not provided education on Ebola with the ability for the nurses to interact and ask questions – a percentage that remains largely unchanged
- 40 percent say their hospital has insufficient current supplies of eye protection (face shields or side shields with goggles) for daily use on their unit; 38 percent say there are insufficient supplies of fluid resistant/impermeable gowns in their hospital – both numbers are increasing as more survey results come in
- 39 percent say their hospital does not have plans to equip isolation rooms with plastic covered mattresses and pillows and discard all linens after use; only 8 percent said they were aware their hospital does have such a plan in place”
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