By KATHERINE FERNANDES
Being a developed country and a world power, we are not taking the necessary steps to prevent Ebola from spreading throughout the country.
In hospitals, there is lack of coordination including the limited training of staff. Moreover, the overconfidence in American hospitals has been another issue.
One of the so-called “prepared hospitals” missed warning signs of the first Ebola patient Thomas Duncan, who first went showing diarrhea and vomit symptoms in Dallas hospital. By the time Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola, it was too late because two nurses who were taking care of him became infected even though they used the “necessary protecting equipment.”
We are not just talking about three Ebola patients from Dallas. There are other people that have been exposed to these infected people, including a school teacher from Ohio who had contact with one of the nurses.
Wasn’t America all ready for this?
Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said “Ebola poses little risk to the U.S. general population. We know how to stop Ebola with strict infection control practices which are already in widespread use in American hospitals.”
As said before there was an excess of confidence in U.S. hospitals, which suggested nearly every American hospital would be ready to receive Ebola patients. Today, this is not what we are seeing. There are many doubts about the ability of hospitals to handle such patients here in the U.S.
Health officials are only relying on the four “specialized hospitals centers” to treat this virus.
If hospitals in the U.S. were really prepared for this illness, why the two nurses who contracted Ebola in Dallas were transferred to two of the four highly specialized hospitals here? Weren’t the hospitals in such a big state such as Texas prepared to treat Ebola? Probably not.
We should note that the four hospitals equipped to treat patients with Ebola are located in Georgia, Nebraska, Maryland and Montana. They have the capacity to treat approximately 10 patients at one time. What if this disease spreads throughout the country? Only four hospitals in one of the most developed countries in the world would be able to treat Ebola patients?
What if Americans become ill abroad and are brought here for treatment and there is insufficient space in “equipped hospitals” because of people that got infected here?
Nigeria is now Ebola-free. This is an example of a country that took the necessary measures to overcome Ebola. In contrast to the U.S, Nigeria knew it was possible that this virus traveled to their country, and that’s why health care workers received the essential training before the virus hit the country.
The nation’s largest health care workers’ union said Wednesday that 85 percent of surveyed nurses feel they are not prepared to deal with the deadly Ebola virus. These feelings of unsafety among heath workers can have consequences in the way health workers treat this fatal virus on infected people.
Based on these nurse’s responses, there is insufficient levels of preparation to handle Ebola. Some nurses said the training to deal with Ebola was limited to a 10-minute course in which they couldn’t ask questions. Other nurses said their training was from e-mails with links to the website of the CDC.
Nurses also said that hospitals don’t have the necessary equipment to ensure their safety. If we are not having the equipment needed for protection in hospitals, health workers will continue infecting.
So, what will happen? Health care workers will stop going to work because of the danger of working in a highly contagious environment in which they do not receive the essential training to deal with Ebola.
If health workers aren’t feeling safe with the equipment they are provided, Americans are not going to feel safe in hands of them and these health care workers would prefer to save themselves from being infected than from saving a life of an Ebola patient.
The CDC should be doing more to prepare doctors and hospitals. The number of biocontainment unit beds that we count on now is not sufficient enough to a worst-case scenario.
Although the CDC doesn’t want to create panic about this illness, they really need to develop better measures to protect and train health care workers; and even more when doctors and nurses in the U.S. are not used to treat Ebola. If a good training is not provided, Ebola could become an epidemic regardless of the skilled medical technologies that we have.