From the very beginning Americans have been told not to worry, the CDC has the Ebola situation under control. Just trust in the CDC and everything will be alright. The problem is, the Centers for Disease Controls simply have not taken the matter seriously enough.
They’ve been listening far too much to their own words, believing that simply because they say the situation is under control, that it actually is under control. Let’s consider the most recent example of Amber Vinson, the second nurse to become infected after treating Thomas Duncan, the first person American soil to become infected with Ebola while not in a controlled environment.
Allowing Ebola infected nurse to fly shows CDC unprepared
Ms. Vinson was about ready to board a plane when she realized she had a slight fever. Most of us might see that temperature and wonder if a cold is coming on. Ms. Vinson, however, had bigger concerns knowing that she could have possibly contracted Ebola. After calling the CDC to report her condition, they told her it was okay to fly, she almost certainly wasn’t infected.
Let’s slow down and think about this for a minute. One nurse was already infected, and another nurse has a fever, which is one of the most common symptoms of Ebola. The CDC then let her board a plane even after she herself voiced her own concerns. So a metal tube filled with hundreds of people and the CDC has no qualms with a high risk person showing symptoms of Ebola getting on board?
Did Ms. Vinson infect other patients? Probably not as Ebola is generally contagious when the disease progresses, and the disease travels through bodily fluids. Of course, it’s always possible that the virus itself has or could evolve to spread more easily. Either way, the CDC needs to start putting public interest first and taking extra precautions, especially when people are showing symptoms. This isn’t rocket science, it’s common sense.
Protocols still not in place or are not understood
The CDC and other health officials have repeatedly assured the American people that an Ebola outbreak simply isn’t possible here. The United States isn’t a poor African country after all, we have an advanced health system and some of the world’s best public health agencies. Protocols would defeat the virus, we’ve been told.
Too bad these protocols seem to be failing.
The problem with protocols is that they sound great on paper, and they usually work if everyone follows them. Unfortunately, many of our frontline health care workers still have no clue on how to handle Ebola, and we can’t fault them either. This is a serious disease that most workers simply aren’t trained to handle.
Consider Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. The hospital turned Tim Duncan away even as he was exhibiting signs of Ebola, and while it’s easy to blame health care workers, nurses from the hospital are claiming that they were never told how to handle Ebola cases, and more importantly, what signs to watch for.
Sure, the CDC might have some excellent protocols in its library of polices. Tim Duncan shouldn’t have been turned away, they claim. He should have been isolated and tested. That was the right course of action, but you have to tell nurses how to handle the situation.
So far, however, the CDC has simply continued on its path of strong words and written protocols, but has done little to educate nurses. The CDC needs to stop relying on press releases and protocols and needs to take a hands on approach to combating this dangerous disease.
Isolate people, ban them from flying if you have to. Monitor them. Test them. Train nurses on how to actually combat Ebola. Put up a website specifically for nurses, and tell them what to look for and what to do when a suspected Ebola case emerges. Send staff to hospitals in major metropolitan areas and actually educate health care workers in person. Use hands on demonstrations.
Again, this isn’t rocket science, it’s common sense. That said, for all the the PhDs and MD’s at the CDC, there seems to be a serious lack of common sense, and that’s got to change right now.