U.S. Hospitals Redouble Efforts To Prep For Ebola
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
The news from Dallas fueled anxiety among nurses and other health workers in hospitals around the country. NPR's Allison Aubrey looks at how some healthcare facilities are stepping up efforts to train, protect and communicate with their workers.
ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: Registered nurse Karen Higgins is nowhere near the events in Dallas. She lives in Boston. But this weekend, as word of the Ebola-infected nurse made headlines, she felt uneasy. She was finishing her shift in the Intensive Care Unit at Boston Medical Center.
KAREN HIGGINS: Oh, it's absolutely on everybody's mind, and I think after what's gone on in Dallas, you know, it's a concern. And a lot of the nurses are also talking about how their families are concerned.
AUBREY: Higgins, who's also active with National Nurses United, says her hospital, like most others around the country, has protocols in place on how to deliver care in the event of a suspected Ebola case. But she says what nurses want now is training on how to carry out or act on these including how to protect themselves.
HIGGINS: I can honestly say, you know, we've had very little train.
AUBREY: She says there's been guidance on the hospital website and some training videos. But Higgins says she wants training on how to, for instance, effectively use personal-protective equipment.
HIGGINS: It should be hands-on training, 1 to 1. We should be in and out of what, you know, hopefully the hazmat suits. And they should be teaching people how to put them on, how to take them off, and repeat it, and repeat, so basically you can do it in your sleep.
AUBREY: Boston Medical Center told us in a statement that as new information about Ebola is made available, hospital administrators are on it -providing additional education to healthcare workers. Its training is consistent with CDC guidelines, the hospital says. And the hospital also says, individual caregivers directly involved in the case of a suspected Ebola patient will receive supplemental one-on-one training, including proper use of equipment. Now, going forward it's possible that any future Ebola patients will not stay in the hospitals where they're diagnosed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering consolidating care at a handful of designated hospitals that are specially trained and equipped to handle high-risk viruses. But CDC director Tom Frieden says, no hospital can let its guard down because a sick person is likely to turn up at the ER that's closest to them.
THOMAS FRIEDEN: So we do want hospitals to have the ability to rapidly consider, isolate and diagnose people who may have Ebola.
AUBREY: And this means workers in every hospital need to know how to protect themselves. It's a priority that Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. says it's been focused on since last summer when CDC started talking to hospitals about Ebola preparedness. Bill Frohna is the chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the hospital.
BILL FROHNA: Really, training has been started back in July. It's actually something that we're doing - absolutely. Hands-on - there's nothing like hands-on training to make sure that our providers know how to put on and take off the personal-protective equipment.
AUBREY: And now Frohna says, given the recent developments in Texas the hospital is redoubling its efforts - both in communicating with its doctors and nurses and putting new efforts in place.
FROHNA: We've got individuals around the hospital - infection control practitioners, nurse educators going ahead and making sure that everyone has an opportunity to practice this in a safe environment, so that they feel comfortable, so that if it comes to real-world situation, we can do it with a great deal of confidence.
AUBREY: Giving patients the best care he says while also protecting workers. Allison Aubrey, NPR News.
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