In a letter to President Barack Obama about the growing concern over Ebola in the United States, the National Nurses United (NNU) urged the president to “invoke his executive authority” to order all U.S. hospitals to meet the highest “uniform, national standards and protocols” in order to “safely protect patients, all health care workers and the public.”
Two nurses who cared for an Ebola patient in Dallas who later died have contracted the disease and there have been serious questions raised about that hospital’s protocols and preparedness and concerns if other health care facilities are prepared. In the letter, NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro writes:
Not one more patient, nurse or health care worker should be put at risk due to a lack of health care facility preparedness The United States should be setting the example on how to contain and eradicate the Ebola virus.
At a press conference today, AFT, which represents nurses and other health care professionals, called on all health care facilities to adopt a three-point plan as the core of their response to treating possible Ebola victims and protecting the health care workers who treat them. It includes an infectious disease control protocol and worker protections; developing a dedicated treatment team of willing staff members—doctors, nurses and support staff and providing front-line health care workers a voice in developing the procedures, protocols and plans to deal with Ebola at their facilities.
Says AFT President Randi Weingarten:
Nurses and health care professionals are the front line in this fight, and their number one priority is to keep their communities safe….Health care professionals step up when there are crises, they run toward crises.
Along with calling for stronger protocols and protections, the United States along with NNU and AFT have been providing assistance to nurses unions and health care workers organizations in West Africa who are in the center of the Ebola battle. That includes working with international organizations to provide health care workers with education, training and other support. Weingarten says:
We must deal with the Ebola crisis globally and locally.
Bonnie Castillo, RN, director of NNU’s Registered Nurse Response Network, says:
All of us have a responsibility to support the humanitarian effort and assist the heroic nurses, doctors and other health care workers who are on the front lines risking their lives to heal the thousands of infected patients in West Africa.