Chief Nurse at Emory Defends Ebola Transfer: 'We Can Fear, Or We Can Care'

Chief Nurse at Emory Defends Ebola Transfer: 'We Can Fear, Or We Can Care'

The chief nurse for Emory Healthcare at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Susan M. Grant, penned an op-ed in the Washington Post Wednesday defending the decision to bring Ebola patients to America.

Grant wrote that Americans need not worry about Emory’s ability to contain the deadly virus, as she believed the hospital is more than capable of successfully preventing the spread of Ebola:

Those fears [about Ebola spread] are unfounded and reflect a lack of knowledge about Ebola and our ability to safely manage and contain it. Emory University Hospital has a unit created specifically for these types of highly infectious patients, and our staff is thoroughly trained in infection control procedures and protocols. But beyond that, the public alarm overlooks the foundational mission of the U.S. medical system. The purpose of any hospital is to care for the ill and advance knowledge about human health. At Emory, our education, research, dedication and focus on quality — essentially everything we do — is in preparation to handle these types of cases.

Grant said that the American medical profession will gain an enormous amount of knowledge and insight in observing and treating Ebola patients stateside. She wrote:

Further, Americans stand to benefit from what we learn by treating these patients… Ebola won’t become a threat to the general public from their presence in our facility, but the insight we gain by caring for them will prepare us to better treat emergent diseases that may confront the United States in the future. We also can export our new knowledge to treat Ebola globally. This pathogen is part of our world, and if we want eradicate these types of potentially fatal diseases before they reach our shores uncontrolled, we have to contribute to the global research effort. Today, diseases do not stay contained to one city, country or even continent.

The chief nurse then hit upon a more controversial argument: that bringing the patients to America was the “right thing to do,” writing:

Most importantly, we are caring for these patients because it is the right thing to do. These Americans generously went to Africa on a humanitarian mission to help eradicate a disease that is especially deadly in countries without our health-care infrastructure. They deserve the same selflessness from us. To refuse to care for these professionals would raise enormous questions about the ethical foundation of our profession. They have a right to come home for their care when it can be done effectively and safely.

Grant said that everyone at Emory that is now observing the Ebola patients has “volunteered” to do so. Two nurses even cancelled their planned vacations to become part of the assignment.

She concluded, “We can either let our actions be guided by misunderstandings, fear, and self-interest, or we can lead by knowledge, science and compassion. We can fear, or we can care.”