Nurses Union Updates America on Ebola

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, a for-profit hospital who received America’s first Ebola patient, committed five crucial errors that exemplify their lack of readiness, and perhaps a larger lack of US readiness for treating Ebola.

Much of this information is now known to the public thanks to a nurses union in California.

That’s important.

We did not learn of Texas Health Presbyterian’s problems through one of its paid spokespersons or marketing gurus, nor from the CDC. The Dallas nurses identified its hospital’s to the California Nurses Association (CNA)―a union that does not represent the Dallas nurses.

Here is the message they relayed, and which the union made public.

5 Things the Nurses Told Us

1)      The day Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, he was asked to wait for several hours in a public area with seven other non-Ebola patients of the hospital, possibly exposing those patients to the disease. Hospital administrators rebuffed requests from the head nurse to isolate Mister Duncan while he waited.

2)      Hospital protective gear provided to nursing staff who worked with Mister Duncan did not comply with CDC standards. Specifically, the safety outfits left the nurses’ necks exposed. As a work-around, hospital authorities told nurses to “wrap their necks with medical tape.”

3)      Hospital authorities had no strategy for adequately removing hazardous waste after Mister Duncan was treated.

4)      Hospital authorities failed to provide mandatory training to its nursing staff in treating Ebola, and failed to adequately test whether what little training was provided met the hospital’s or CDC’s goals.

5)      Hospital nursing staff did not feel their issues were being considered by Texas Health Presbyterian’s administrators, and deemed it necessary to reach out to the California Nurses Association, a California-based union, in order to alert the public of the hospital’s inability to deal with the crisis. Any nurses directly involved in the problems cited above were not asked to be part of the outreach to CNA, fearing retaliation from the hospital authorities.

There has been a thirty-five year effort to rid this country’s workers of labor protection. Many Americans who do not currently enjoy union protection have largely sat out this the fight, falsely believing that denying other Americans labor representation does not directly affect them.  They are wrong.  That’s the message of these Dallas nurses.

Ronald Reagan declared war on American workers early in his presidency. Is it any wonder that wages and working conditions in the U.S. have slid in that time, or that the income gulf between U.S. workers and the wealthy has widened?


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