On Thursday’s broadcast of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” Texas Health Presbyterian nurse Briana Aguirre explained to host Anderson Cooper why she wouldn’t trust her hospital with her own Ebola treatment.
Aguirre was joined by her attorney, Bob Kelly.
Partial transcript as follows:
COOPER: It’s stunning to me too is the lack of transparency of this hospital. And I mean, I’m not here to bash the hospital, but, you know, you’re putting your lives on the line. And you’re putting your lives on the line. And there are other hospitals out there that are desperate for information because other hospitals could make the same mistakes and need to learn from what happened here.
And this hospital has just been silent. They have been silent until you really come forward, and I mean, that’s why think what you are doing so brave, this hospital had remained silent in the face of all of this. They’ve said virtually nothing about what is occurred inside there about the real mistake they’ve made. They’ve apologized generally but they haven’t gone specific and the specifics matter and you help other hospitals out there.
AGUIRRE: And ultimately, I agree with every word you said and that’s why I’m here. I am so tired of hearing their explanations that don’t mean to anything, to anyone. I’m tired of them blaming the nurses for being sick and I’m tired it. And I’m tired of it and I’m not taking it. Those nurses are heroes. And I refused to continue to hear them, you know, at any other way and I’m not going to.
COOPER: Let me ask you about the medical waste because that’s obviously huge issue (inaudible). Was there — I mean there’s obviously a lot of medical waste in a case dealing with an Ebola patient. How was that handled?
AGUIRRE: Well, there was no clear way that it was going to be handled. I believe that, I mean I wasn’t — I never called a sanitation crew. I just told my charge nurse, I told my supervisor, I told the CDC, I told that infectious disease, you know, I said — excuse me. And I said, “We need our garbage picked up.” You know, we are generating a crazy amount of garbage. I mean, just with the amount of gear we’re wearing and every time you have to go in a room, you have to put it all on and you have to take it all up and do it again and you spend essentially all day getting dressed and undressed. And we were wearing disposable scrubs, paper scrubs, some type of product. And a crazy and a massive amount of garbage and waste. Some of it coming directly from the patient’s rooms.
And it was piling up. When I came in on a Saturday morning, the 11th — the room that was designated as the garbage room was already chockfull. I mean, they ran out of room and they were just throwing bags in there. And — So then it started being put in the hallway. And when I came there on…
COOPER: In the hallway?
AGUIRRE: Yes. A hallway of — that’s inside of the isolation unit. So it’s not like a hallway that any Joe Schmo could be walking down. Its nurses, you know, it was a locked down unit.
But the CDC and the infectious disease people were walking up and down that hallway without anything on. They had no gloves on. They had no foot covers. They had no PP on, whatsoever. And they were walking right near and touching stuff all up and down that hallway and then going into areas that were designated to be clean. And that’s why I called that scene just uncontrolled, unsystematic, chaotic, you know, it’s ridiculous setup.
COOPER: Bob, are there whistle blower protections for Briana?
KELLY: There are some, but the whistle protection blower laws in Texas are not that strong. That’s why what I was really like to be able to avoid any kind of litigation or any lawsuit, I am — if I could make in a public request Jim Berg whose the president of the hospital to contact you, Anderson, go on record and say, “Look, we recognize that this nurse is a hero and her job is in no way integrity (ph) as a result of what happened.
We don’t want to go in the litigation. She’s just…
COOPER: We’ll reach out to them.
KELLY: She’s not in this for the money. She just wants to know that her job is secure and she can continue to be a nurse and provide for her family.
COOPER: If God forbid, you tested positive and obviously you’re monitoring yourself now, would you go to this hospital to be treated?
AGUIRRE: I don’t know if I can legally refuse but I would try. I would do anything and everything not to be a patient there. I told this to someone else and it’s not because I feel that a facility — another facility would do a better job, I have a wonderful job — I have a wonderful hospital. It’s because of what I saw there and what I actually know to be going wrong in there.
And I just — I would be sitting there feeling like I could be contaminated any minute. If I didn’t already have Ebola, then I may get it by being there, by having a doctor cross contaminate between patients by having an confident infectious disease — infection control department, by having incompetent CDC leadership there, absolutely. They promised. They promised to be transparent and they promise to put their employee’s safety as their number priority. And I feel lied to and I know so many other people that do, as well.
COOPER: Well Briana, I appreciate your strength and you courage in coming forward. We’ll continue to push on the hospital to get a response for you about your job. Bob as well, thank you very much. Thanks for your time.
KELLY: Thank you. Thank you Anderson.
AGUIRRE: Thank you.
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