Ebola is new but how you protect yourself is not

Raleigh, NC—National nurses unions have slammed the Presbyterian hospital in Dallas, 1Texas for not teaching healthcare workers how to adequately protect themselves against the Ebola virus.  But, what the unions are saying is not necessarily right.  Here’s why.

Ebola is relatively new and certainly new to the United States, but the way you contract the virus is not something healthcare workers are unfamiliar with. 

The virus is transmitted via body fluid.  That means you not only have to come into contact with the patient, but you have to get the patient’s fluid on your person in order to get infected.

This is exactly like the AIDS virus that has plagued the United States for over thirty years.  And, healthcare workers have become quite good at protecting themselves from that virus.

If Ebola is spread the same way AIDS is spread then healthcare workers don’t need to be in-serviced in the virus to remain safe.

Most hospitals, per OSHA regulations and JCAHO, mandate that healthcare workers who have the propensity to come into contact with patient fluids have to be retrained every year in PPE (personal protective equipment).

New employees of hospitals are trained during their orientation process before they are allowed to work at the facility.

I’m not sure the Dallas hospital did everything right.  In fact, I’m sure there were things that could have been handled better.  But, the fact that nurses became contaminated as a result of a lack of training is a reach. 

If the nurses had followed policy and procedure, they would not have been contaminated.   Period.  It doesn’t matter the name of the virus, PPE is performed the same way, each and every time.

The bigger problem is a lack of common sense.  The second nurse who has now contracted the Ebola virus was on a plane just one day before she was admitted to the hospital.

Was she completely asymptomatic? I doubt we’ll ever know. But, there needs to be some due diligence in public safety.  In other words, she shouldn’t have been able to get on the plane in the first place.  

The United Nations released a statement yesterday, ahead of the latest healthcare worker contamination, that stated if the virus isn’t abated within the next 60 days the likelihood of it spreading all over the world is severe. 

If we’re going to stop international travelers at the airport before they enter the United States, then we damn sure need to police our domestic flights and high risk passengers.

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About George Fisher

George is a freelance writer, an author and a Democratic political consultant. He has worked as Deputy Communications Director for a Senatorial campaign and Campaign Manager for several NC House races and one congressional race. He previously worked as a news producer for a local television station.
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