No mention of “Nurses” turned Ebola “worries” to Ebola “concerns” to Ebola FEAR
After each Ebola and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital (“Dallas Hospital”)-related Press Conference held last week, I began to worry about the subtle, but vitally important, omission of the term “nurse” or “nursing” whenever authoritative proclamations were made by the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), various Texas and Dallas politicians or by President Barack Obama’s staff about the United States’ readiness and ability to effectively treat, isolate and contain the Ebola virus disease. My worries were transformed into “concerns” when various BRAVE nurses and representatives of nursing organizations admitted they lacked, and respectfully yearned for, the necessary training and protocols to properly and safely confront all possible Ebola situations. My concerns were further heightened later last week when Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan succumbed to the often fatal virus while in isolation at the Dallas Hospital. My heightened concerns have now been transformed into REAL FEAR since it was most recently reported that TWO (2) nurses who treated Mr. Duncan at the Dallas Hospital tested positive for having the Ebola virus despite taking the basic safety precautions; all of which must have been at least seemingly adequate since no one commented UNTIL YESTERDAY MORNING about a potential “breach in protocol.”
Two (2) Nurses may pay the ultimate price for a MASSIVE Bureaucratic & Institutional FAILURE
The Director of the CDC, Dr. Thomas Frieden, initially and despicably reacted to the first nurse contracting Ebola as the result of her apparent “breach in protocol” thus blaming her for contracting Ebola. He should be FIRED simply for making such a foolish, inaccurate, self-serving and insensitive comment at a time when people around the world are watching and relying upon his every word to quell their fears about contracting Ebola. He quickly corrected himself and issued some vague comment conveying appreciation for this nurse’s brave commitment to her patient and insinuated that any “breach in protocol” was a combination of errors committed by the institutional participants such as the Dallas Hospital and the CDC. But casually referring to possible CDC errors with respect to a life and death matter such as Ebola safeguards is condescending at best and completely incompetent at worst. Dr. Frieden should be fired for making this ridiculous comment. Then, today, we learned that another nurse who treated Mr. Duncan has also contracted Ebola and it turns out the aforementioned CDC and/or Dallas Hospital “protocols” were either incorrect, confusing, inconsistent, ignored by the Dallas Hospital or non-existent and these HEROIC NURSES nevertheless decided to utilize their expertise to help another human being suffering a horrific medical fate. Dr. Frieden should also be fired for failing to devise and communicate clear and consistent Ebola treatment and containment protocols.
Shockingly, the unpreparedness of the Dallas Hospital to treat and contain an Ebola patient put its own workers and patients at risk for contracting Ebola
Considering all these authoritative press conferences which NEVER ONCE MENTIONED the VITAL ROLE OF NURSES in treating patients with ANY INFECTIOUS DISEASE, it was the Nurses who proved to be the most knowledgeable and forthcoming authority on Ebola treatment and containment when their representatives admitted they were unsure of which protocol to follow. Yet their pleas for help and guidance were IGNORED until one of them contracted Ebola. Moreover, these HEROIC NURSES didn’t wait for the Bureaucrats to devise a universally safe Ebola protocol; they just “ran to the fire” to help Mr. Duncan and now two (2) nurses may pay the ultimate price for a MASSIVE BUREAUCRATIC FAILURE. But MOST STARTLING is how unprepared the Dallas Hospital was to admit an Ebola patient and effectively treat him or her while also protecting its healthcare professionals and patients. If the Dallas Hospital only followed the candid, transparent and forthcoming lead of organized nursing groups and admitted they needed guidance about the proper protocols, Mr. Duncan would have been transferred to a different facility better trained to handle an Ebola patient without compromising the health of its workers or patients.
Crucial Role of Nurses should have been acknowledged by the CDC
The CRUCIAL role of nurses in treating patients in a hospital setting should have been duly acknowledged the minute the CDC and/or state and federal health officials devised training programs and protocols for healthcare professionals treating Ebola patients and NOT after a heroic nurse tests positive for the Ebola virus. I find it reprehensible for the Director of the CDC to react to such devastating news by immediately seeking to apparently blame the nurse for this Ebola occurrence by stating, “a breach in protocol for treating a patient happened,” especially when that nurse had little guidance as to ANY Ebola treatment or containment protocols yet she never wavered in her professional resolve and tried to help a fellow human being who was medically suffering inside a hospital. That’s a HERO who should be singled out for responding to an unprecedented medical emergency by offering all the knowledge, training and experience she has accrued to try and save a stranger’s life regardless of the consequences. The “protocol” to question is the one devised by the CDC and/or by federal/state health officials who completely dropped the ball in failing to recognize “the nurse” as the “heart” of any public healthcare system such that Ebola or other potentially fatal infectious disease training protocols, for example, should be communicated to nurses as soon as they are developed.
Nurses stand with Patients on the Front-lines
Doctors may give “orders” but nurses “execute” them. This places nurses in direct contact with patients for the longest periods of time making it logical for nurses to perhaps be trained with a greater sense of urgency than that utilized with most any other healthcare professionals with the possible exception of hospital administrators and “First Responders,” a catch-all term referring to the first medically trained responders to arrive on the “scene,” which leaves them extremely vulnerable to every conceivable infectious disease. First Responders typically include the police, fire department and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) such as paramedics, ambulance drivers and various emergency room personnel.
With all due respect to the bright, compassionate and dedicated doctors, I’m tired of watching various Bureaucrats opine on television about the current Ebola situation and how “we” have the “best Doctors ….” We do; but it is the Nurse who stands in the front-lines of any battle vs. potentially fatal infectious diseases and it’s therefore appalling they are not mentioned FIRST in any discussion regarding reasonable concerns about Ebola & the readiness to contain it from spreading when they are the BRAVE Healthcare Professionals MOST AT RISK because of their unflinching dedication to HELPING OTHERS. After all, in a typical day at a hospital, the patient sees the doctor for four (4) – eight (8) MINUTES but it is the nurse who’s treating the patient during the “remaining” twenty-three (23) HOURS and fifty-five (55) minutes.
The Ebola Candor & Transparency demonstrated by Nurses MUST transform the CDC
I think we will all learn a great deal from the current Ebola tragedies but people will die needlessly if CANDOR and TRANSPARENCY is not practiced going forward. To that end, the CDC and state/federal health officials should follow the lead of Nurses and admit they are not NOW fully prepared to address these potential global disasters BUT they are prioritizing their training efforts and anticipate being ready soon. After all, the first step in fixing a problem is admitting you have one. In that regard, the CDC not recognizing Nurses as the heart of healthcare reveals something’s seriously wrong at the CDC because their Ebola treatment/containment protocols and training should be initially focused on nurses and first responders.
This is another reason Dr. Thomas Frieden should be fired so that a NEW climate can be established at the CDC which duly recognizes Nursing as perhaps the most at-risk of healthcare professionals when it comes to treating and containing infectious diseases. Clearly, CDC Director Dr. Frieden either does not believe this to be true or he is incapable of incorporating Nurses into a CDC infectious disease training protocol in a manner commensurate with their high degree of exposure to contracting any such infectious diseases from the patients they treat. However, I trust the current Ebola debacle at the Dallas Hospital will be carefully studied and the CDC will then quickly rectify this so that nurses around the world will be properly trained to treat and contain any type of Ebola case at their respective hospital.
But what do I know?
I share this information not to boast but to legitimize my opinion in what I believe is a global emergency which presently is “only” a health threat but if it is not properly contained it can quickly morph into a global economic threat and it can affect the surety with which a chronic patient relies on a hospital and a healthcare system. To that end, I’ve been hospitalized over TWO HUNDRED (200) times and endured over TWENTY-FIVE (25) surgeries due to my thirty (30) year battle with the chronic, incurable, autoimmune illness, Crohn’s Disease. I also wrote a critically-acclaimed book on this subject matter, namely, “Confessions of a Professional Hospital Patient,” which continues to sell as both a paperback and eBook at major retailers and etailers such as Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com. Therefore, please trust me; nurses are the heart of healthcare. I also wish God’s speed to the two (2) nurses currently battling the Ebola virus and I pray no other healthcare professional or patient from that Dallas Hospital suffers a similar fate.