Dallas Nurses' Union Says Ebola Protocols Didn't Even Exist At Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital
After a second Dallas health care worker was diagnosed with Ebola Tuesday, the U.S.' largest nurses union released a statement alleging appalling conditions for nurses at the Dallas hospital that's currently responsible for curbing the spread of Ebola into the general population. According to their horrifying remarks at a press conference Wednesday, that responsibility may have been squandered.
Since the first Ebola case diagnosed in the U.S. was confirmed on Sept. 30, the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas has been handling the situation with less-than-desirable results. The patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, died on Oct. 8 after initially being sent home and coming into contact with as many as 100 people. Then, on Sunday, the CDC confirmed that a nurse who had been treating Duncan was also diagnosed with Ebola. And on Wednesday, a second nurse was diagnosed...how many more will come out of the woodwork?
While the CDC is reevaluating its safety protocols in the wake of the new diagnoses, a spotlight has also been fixed on the hospital where all of these cases have been handled. The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas has a dubious reputation when it comes to prematurely discharging its patients and the quality of emergency care, but now the National Nurses United union, who does not represent the nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian, are recounting claims by several anonymous nurses from the Dallas hospital about its atrocious working conditions. If you, like me, are seriously considering locking yourself in your apartment and never leaving ever again, you might not want to read further.
Was Isolation Unfamiliar To The Hospital?
Among the nurses' allegations, one of the most alarming is that Duncan was kept in an open area of the emergency department for hours, and possibly exposed up to seven other patients to the virus. And those patients who were potentially exposed to Duncan were only kept in isolation for a day before being released, the nurses claimed. On top of that, the nurses who treated Duncan allegedly also treated other patients, thereby potentially exposing them to Ebola as well.
Ebola Lab Samples Were Also Not Isolated
And it wasn't just the people who reportedly weren't kept in strict isolation. According to the nurses' statement, lab samples of Ebola were allowed to travel through the same pneumatic tubes used to transport other samples, which means the entire specimen delivery system could have been contaminated. Another shocking allegation? Contaminated waste was allowed to pile up to the ceiling.
The Available Protective Gear Was Almost Laughable
As for protective gear, one of the most vital elements in curbing the spread of Ebola, the nurses say they barely had any. They claim that they had to "interact with Mr. Duncan with whatever protective equipment was available," even when he was producing a high volume of bodily fluids, like vomiting and diarrhea. The statement detailed that the nurses had to use medical tape to try and close their garments in an attempt to not expose their skin to the disease.
There Was No Protocol
Perhaps the most shocking allegation is that when it came to Ebola, the hospital did not have an official protocol. Deborah Burger of National Nurses United said in the statement:
There was no advance preparedness on what to do with the patient, there was no protocol, there was no system.
In fact, the statement reported that Ebola training was optional for the staff and guidelines had changed several times. When it came time to deal with it, workers were allegedly allowed to choose whichever protocol they wanted.
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