The PJ Tatler

Nurses Union Asks Obama to Order Hospitals to Use Adequate Protective Measures

A nurses union is trying to collect petition signatures urging President Obama to use his executive authority to mandate Ebola-protection standards among all healthcare employers.

National Nurses United said Obama’s action would be “the only way to adequately confront Ebola crisis” by mandating “uniform, national standards and protocols that all hospitals must follow to safely protect patients, all healthcare workers, and the public.”

They’re asking for:

— Optimal personal protective equipment for Ebola that meets the highest standards used by the University of Nebraska Medical Center

— Full-body hazmat suits that meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F1670 standard for blood penetration, the ASTM F1671 standard for viral penetration, and that leave no skin exposed or unprotected and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved powered air purifying respirators with an assigned protection factor of at least 50 — or a higher standard as appropriate.

— There shall be at least two direct care registered nurses caring for each Ebola patient with additional RNs assigned as needed based on the direct care RN’s professional judgment with no additional patient care assignments.

— There will be continuous interactive training with the RNs who are exposed to patients. There will also be continuous updated training and education for all RNs that is responsive to the changing nature of disease. This would entail continuous interactive training and expertise from facilities where state of the art disease containment is occurring.

— If the Employer has a program with standards that exceed those used by the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the higher standard shall be used. The Ebola pandemic and the exposure of health care workers to the virus represent a clear and present danger to public health. We know that without these mandates to health care facilities we are putting registered nurses, physicians and other healthcare workers at extreme risk. They are our first line of defense. We would not send soldiers to the battlefield without armor and weapons.

America, the union argued, “should be setting the example on how to contain and eradicate the Ebola virus.”

“Nothing short of your mandate, that optimal safety standards apply, will be acceptable to the nurses of this nation.”

Two nurses who treated Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas have fallen ill with the Ebola virus.

Briana Aguirre, a registered nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, told the Today show that “we never talked about Ebola and we probably should have.”

“They gave us an optional seminar to go to. Just informational, not hands on. It wasn’t even suggested we go … We were never told what to look for,” she said.

Aguirre said the “chaotic” scene after Duncan was admitted included the patient initially being placed in an area with “up to seven other patients.”

“I’ll be honest, I threw a fit. I just couldn’t believe it,” she said of their protective gear that left gaps uncovered. “In the second week of an Ebola crisis at my hospital, the only gear they were offering us at that time, and up until that time, is gear that is allowing our necks to be uncovered?”

The California Nurses Association got a hand from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today: