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Nurses Union Contradicts CDC Director's Claim That Hospitals Are Well Prepared for Ebola

Nurses Union Contradicts CDC Director's Claim That Hospitals Are Well Prepared for Ebola

President Obama and the Centers for Disease Control are being quite careful to tell America that our hospitals are fully prepared for any possible outbreak of Ebola. But members of a nurses union disagree. They say US hospitals aren’t prepared at all.

On September 30, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Thomas Frieden, assured the country that US hospitals are well prepared to face an Ebola crisis.

But nurses and a nurses union fully disagree with the CDC’s chief. They feel US nurses are unprepared and untrained to handle an outbreak of Ebola, and the events in the Texas hospital that found the first US case of the virus might tend to buttress nurses who say they are unprepared.

Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan told the doctors at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas that he had been to a part of the world where the Ebola outbreak was at its worst, yet doctors let him go home anyway.

A representative for nurses says that this tends to show that even after recent training on how to handle Ebola, the Texas hospital was woefully unprepared to handle the virus.

“The Texas case is a perfect example. In addition to not being prepared, there was a flaw in diagnostics as well as communication,” said Micker Samios, a triage nurse in the emergency department at Medstar Washington Hospital Center.

Samios says that inadequate training could make any Ebola outbreak worse.

“A lot of staff feel they aren’t adequately trained,” Samios said.

To add to Samios’ comments, a recent poll of 400 nurses in over 200 hospitals finds that many nurses agree that American medical technicians aren’t prepared for Ebola.

The poll found that 60 percent feel that their hospitals are not ready for Ebola, with 80 percent saying they’ve gotten no extra communication on hospital preparations for the virus. Another 30 percent said that hospitals don’t have enough protective gear for an outbreak.

This is all bad news to RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, a union for US nurses.

“If there are protocols in place, the nurses are not hearing them and the nurses are the ones who are exposed,” DeMoro said.

Karen Higgins, a nurse who works at Boston Medical Center, agrees. She says that hospitals are saying publicly that they are ready for any patients with Ebola, but they probably really aren’t.

“People say they are ready, but then when you ask them what do you actually have in place, nobody is really answering that,” said Higgins.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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