We Need to Stop Pretending We’re Prepared … and Actually Get Prepared
Government spokesmen and mainstream talking heads keep saying that Ebola is no threat to the U.S., because our medical system is thoroughly prepared.
However, Reuters notes that American nurses say they are not prepared for Ebola:
Nurses, the frontline care providers in U.S. hospitals, say they are untrained and unprepared to handle patients arriving in their hospital emergency departments infected with Ebola.
A survey by National Nurses United of some 400 nurses in more than 200 hospitals in 25 states found that more than half (60 percent) said their hospital is not prepared to handle patients with Ebola, and more than 80 percent said their hospital has not communicated to them any policy regarding potential admission of patients infected by Ebola.
Another 30 percent said their hospital has insufficient supplies of eye protection and fluid-resistant gowns.
CBS News reports:
U.S. hospitals and health care workers … say the staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas were unprepared to handle the patient — and that this is likely the case at hospitals throughout the country.
Bonnie Castillo, director of the Registered Nurses Response Network, part of the nurses union National Nurses United, said a majority of union members surveyed say their employers haven’t offered appropriate training to deal with an Ebola outbreak.
85 percent said they were not provided any type of formal education to prepare for Ebola patients.
Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D. – former Lt. Governor of New York – writes at Fox News:
Most hospitals in the U.S. lack the rigor and discipline to control Ebola. That’s why common infectious diseases such as MRSA and C. diff are racing through these hospitals, killing an estimated 75,000 patients every year. Ebola is even deadlier. Yet the CDC has done little to equip hospitals, other than send around memos.
- As Dr. Sanjay Gupta notes, there have been severe lapses in safety at the Centers for Disease Control and U.S. hospitals in treating infectious diseases
“CDC continues to work with reduced financial resources, which similarly affects state, local, and insular public health departments. … These losses make it difficult for state and local health departments to continue to expand their preparedness capabilities, instead forcing them to focus on maintaining their current capabilities.”
- The CDC report also notes that state and local public health departments on the front lines of any health emergency have shed 45,700 jobs since the 2008 financial crisis (at the same time, hospital staffs are being reduced nationwide.)
- In 2010, the Obama administration scrapped CDC’s quarantine regulations aimed at Ebola
- The Department of Homeland Security inspector general issued a scathing report in September warning the department was woefully unprepared for a pandemic
- Hospitals haven’t figured out how to dispose of Ebola medical waste
- Workers are potentially being exposed to Ebola without wearing any – or not properly wearing – protective equipment
- Two national experts on the spread of infectious disease say that Ebola can spread through aerosols – so healthcare workers should wear protective respirators – but government officials refuse to even consider the possibility. In any event, the virus is mutating (and see this), so an overly cavalier attitude is not productive
It’s time to stop pretending we’re prepared. It’s long past time we actually became prepared.