Nurses demand tougher Ebola safety precautions
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Nurses are expected to form picket lines at UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest Wednesday morning to demand more safeguards against the Ebola virus.
The facility at 200 W. Arbor Drive has been deemed a treatment center for any local patients who might contract the deadly disease, but nurses will protest to raise awareness of what they call “eroding patient care standards in the U.S. and globally that are symbolized by inadequate preparedness for fighting the Ebola virus.”
“If nurses had not taken to the air waves, to the streets and to the legislatures, there would have been inaction on Ebola. Everyone passed the buck,” National Nurses United Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro said.
“The Centers for Disease Control had no power, and Ebola is the latest in health threats, there will be more to come. Nurses are demanding patient safety. They are heroes. Hospitals should be forced to spend the money on patient safety that they spend on public relations.”
The local protest was planned as part of a worldwide “wave of action,” in which 100,000 registered nurses are expected to participate, according to National Nurses United. A vigil at the White House and a rally outside the Federal Building in downtown Oakland were also planned.
Officials with National Nurses United said in a statement that their demands include full-body hazmat suits and other personal protective equipment for nurses and other caregivers who interact with Ebola patients and air purifying respirators. They also want medical facilities to provide “continuous, rigorous interactive training for RNs and other health workers who might encounter an Ebola patient.”
“We know from years of experience that these hospitals will meet the cheapest standards, not the most effective precautions,” DeMoro said. “And now we are done talking and ready to act.”
Late last month, the University of California’s five medical centers, including those in San Diego, Los Angeles and Irvine, were identified by the state Department of Public Health as priority hospitals for the treatment of Ebola cases, should any arise in the state. The designation does not mean they have been identified as centers to treat patients being transported to the United States by the U.S. State Department.
“As part of a public university, UC’s medical centers are far along in their preparation activities and are willing to care for confirmed Ebola cases,” Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services, said in a statement. “Stepping up to a public health crisis is what these medical centers do, and in the past weeks we have been actively readying ourselves for any health eventuality related to Ebola.”
The state has agreed to help the UC medical centers obtain personal protective equipment for doctors, nurses and staff if they have difficulty acquiring it.