The nation’s largest nurses union fired back at Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Tom Frieden today.
Frieden initially claimed that nurse Nina Pham contracted Ebola due to a “breach in protocol.” He had to apologize and walk that back, for the simple reason that as he could not specify what protocol had been breached, he was not in a position to claim that one had been breached.
In a statement, the National Nurses United union alleges that there was a series of poor decisions and breakdowns in Texas Presbyterian hospital that endagered staff who provided care for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan.
Among the items on the union’s list of terribles:
— Duncan was kept in a non-isolated area of the emergency department for several hours, potentially exposing up to seven other patients to Ebola;
— Patients who may have been exposed to Duncan were kept in isolation only for a day before being moved to areas where there were other patients;
— Nurses treating Duncan were also caring for other patients in the hospital;
— Preparation for Ebola at the hospital amounted to little more than an optional seminar for staff;
— In the face of constantly shifting guidelines, nurses were allowed to follow whichever ones they chose.
“There was no advance preparedness on what to do with the patient, there was no protocol, there was no system,” Burger said.
Even today, Burger said, some hospital staff at the Dallas hospital do not have proper equipment to handle the outbreak.
“Hospital managers have assured nurses that proper equipment has been ordered but it has not arrived yet,” she said.
No protocol. An optional briefing, not actual training. No proper gear. And now the hospital has two Ebola patients. Both provided care for Duncan.
While Duncan was left in the open ER, he continued to have “explosive diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and projectile vomiting.” During those early hours, hospital staff were not wearing gear to protect themselves from Ebola. Disposable protective shoe covers were “recommended.”
CBS reports that the nurses at Texas Presbyterian are not members of any union, and were warned by the hospital administration not to speak to media or they would be fired.