DiversityNursing Blog

'Fearless' Ebola Nurse Trains At Emory University

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Apr 13, 2015 @ 10:29 AM

By Elizabeth Cohen and John Bonifield

www.cnn.com

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Just eight months ago, a young woman named Fatu Kekula was single-handedly trying to save her Ebola-stricken family, donning trash bags to protect herself against the deadly virus. 

Today, because of a CNN story and the generosity of donors from around the world, Kekula wears scrubs bearing the emblem of the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing in Atlanta, where she's learning skills she can take back home to care for her fellow Liberians. 

"It's a surprise -- a young child like me who came from a very poor background coming to the U.S.," she said. "I'm thankful to CNN and I appreciate the people who made donations, and I'm thankful to Emory for accepting me to study."

At Emory, Kekula has asked for special training on certain skills, such as caring for burns, a common type of injury because children in Liberia sometimes fall into the open fires used for cooking. 

One of her instructors, Kelly Fullwood, said Kekula's an excellent student who has taught her teachers a thing or two about how to do procedures without costly equipment, as she's been forced to do in Liberia. 

"She fascinates me every day," Fullwood said. "She gets nursing. She gets what it's about."

Kekula, 23, was just a year away from finishing up her nursing degree in Liberia when Ebola struck and her mother, father, sister and cousin came down with the disease. Hospitals were full and no doctors would visit her home, so with just advice from a physician on the phone, Kekula took care of all four of her relatives at the same time. 

All but her cousin survived -- a high success rate considering that at the time, about 70% of Ebola patients were dying in Liberia.

Kekula couldn't continue her nursing education in Liberia, because the schools had closed. 

A CNN story about Kekula in September prompted donations from around the world to IAM, an organization that raises money to help African natives pay for education. 

David Smith, an associate dean at Emory's nursing school, said they accepted Kekula because they were struck by how both she and Emory each treated four Ebola patients at around the same time last year -- and Emory had dozens of doctors and nurses and millions of dollars in technology while Kekula had nobody and nearly no supplies.

"It was obvious to us that this woman was intelligent and strong and fearless," he said. 

Kekula is scheduled to return to Liberia in August. 

"These things that I have learned here I am going to take back to my fellow nurses," she said. "I love to care for people. I love to save lives."

Topics: medical school, Ebola, West Africa, nurse, hospital, medicine, Liberia, Emory University, CNN, nursing degree

Liberia's Last Ebola Patient Leaves Clinic

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Mar 06, 2015 @ 11:22 AM

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Liberia released its last Ebola patient, a 58-year old English teacher, from a treatment center in the capital Thursday, beginning its countdown to being Ebola-free.

"I am one of the happiest human beings today on earth because it was not easy going through this situation and coming out alive," Beatrice Yardolo said after her release.

She says she became infected while caring for a sick child.

"I was bathing her. I used to carry her from the bathroom alone because nobody wanted to take any risk. That is how I got in contact," she said.

Yardolo, a mother of five, said she had been admitted to the Chinese-run Ebola treatment center in Monrovia on Feb. 18.

"I am so overwhelmed because my family has been through a very difficult period from January to now. And to know that it's all coming to an end is a very delightful news. I'm so happy," Yardolo's son, Joel Yardolo, told reporters.

Tolbert Nyenswah, assistant health minister and head of the country's Ebola response, says there are no other confirmed cases of Ebola.

"For the past 13 days the entire Republic of Liberia has gone without a confirmed Ebola virus disease," Nyenswah told reporters. "This doesn't mean that Ebola is all over in Liberia."

After a 42-day countdown - two full incubation periods for the virus to cause an infection - the country can be declared Ebola-free. Officials are monitoring 102 people who have been in recent contact with an Ebola patient.

Since the epidemic started a year ago, Liberia has recorded 9,265 cases of Ebola, with 4,057 deaths. But the World Health Organization says there are almost certainly more cases than that. WHO says close to 24,000 cases have been recorded, and close to 10,000 deaths, in the entire West African epidemic.

-- The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story

Source: www.nbcnews.com

Topics: virus, Ebola, health, healthcare, nurse, nurses, doctors, medicine, patient, treatment, Liberia

Ebola Survivor Nina Pham Suing Hospital to Be 'Voice for Other Nurses'

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Mar 02, 2015 @ 02:10 PM

EMILY SHAPIRO

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A nurse who contracted Ebola at the Dallas hospital where she worked plans to sue the hospital's parent company, Texas Health Resources, hoping to be a "voice for other nurses," her lawyer said today.

In the suit, which Nina Pham plans to file Monday, the 26-year-old nurse alleges that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital didn't train the staff to treat Ebola and didn't give them proper protective gear, which left parts of their skin exposed, her lawyer Charla Aldous said.

"One of the most concerning things about the way [the hospital] handled this entire process is you've got a young lady who has this disease which she should not have. And if they properly trained her and given her the proper personal protective equipment to wear, she would not have gotten the disease," Aldous said.

Aldous said Pham hopes the suit will "help make sure that hospitals and big corporations properly train their nurses and healthcare providers."

"This is not something that Nina chose," Aldous said, but "She's hoping that through this lawsuit she can make it a change for the better for all nurses."

Pham is still coping with Ebola's after-effects, including nightmares and body aches, her lawyer said.

"She has not gone back to work yet and she is working on recovering," Aldous said. "I don't know if she'll ever be a nurse again."

Texas Health Resources spokesperson Wendell Watson said in a statement: "Nina Pham bravely served Texas Health Dallas during a most difficult time. We continue to support and wish the best for her, and we remain optimistic that constructive dialogue can resolve this matter."

Last fall, Pham cared for Liberian native Thomas Eric Duncan, who flew to the U.S. and was diagnosed with Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Pham took care of Duncan when he was especially contagious, and on Oct. 8, Duncan died from the virus.

Pham tested positive for Ebola on Oct. 11, marking the first Ebola transmission on U.S. soil.

On Oct. 16, Pham was transferred to the National Institutes of Health's hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. She was discharged on Oct. 24.

At the news conference announcing Pham's discharge, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH, said she tested negative for Ebola five times, and that it wasn't clear which treatment saved her because they were all experimental.

"I want to first tell you what a great pleasure and in many respects, a privilege ... to have the opportunity to treat and care for and get to know such an extremely courageous and lovely person," Fauci said, adding that she represents the health care workers who "put themselves on the line."

Pham's dog, Bentley, was also quarantined for several weeks, over fears that he, too, would develop Ebola.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com

Topics: virus, Ebola, nursing, health, healthcare, nurse, nurses, hospital, NIH, survivor

A Nurse Decides to Get Hands-On in the Ebola Zone

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jan 19, 2015 @ 11:03 AM

By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS

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Lindsey Hallen is in the bug spray aisle at REI, the outdoor equipment emporium in SoHo, looking for exactly the right mosquito repellent to take to West Africa’s Ebola zone, when her phone rings. Three ascending tones, the personal anthem of an emergency room nurse, captured in a ringtone called “Summit.”

“Hello?” she says, pulling the phone out of her jacket pocket. Then in an aside, “I think this is them.”

Ms. Hallen listens, pacing back and forth along the aisle, as her gaunt face takes on the same wide-eyed look of concentration it assumes as when she works in the emergency room at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. Total Focus. Matter of Life and Death.

Since the latest Ebola outbreak entered public consciousness, most accounts of United States health workers have focused on the ones returning; the missionaries who were airlifted out and brought back from the brink of death, or Craig Spencer, the young doctor cured of the virus at New York City’s premier public hospital, Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan, while much of the city held its breath.

Now Ms. Hallen, a 31-year-old nurse with two years’ experience working with critically ill patients in this country, is going the other way, heading to West Africa to fight an epidemic that has sickened 21,000 people and killed more than 8,000.

“Why?” her friends and colleagues invariably ask when they find out what she is doing. Why would a relatively young, untested nurse want to risk putting her life in jeopardy to help save people living thousands of miles away, people sick and dying of a brutal, bleeding, contagious fever?

The question annoys her. Her reasons are instinctive, from the gut. You feel driven to do this or you don’t. The thinking only comes later.

“Why not?” she replies. “Why not me?” So the phone call shakes her. The woman on the other end of the line is a recruiter for Partners in Health, the Boston organization that is sending her to West Africa. Instead of Sierra Leone, as had been planned, the group now wants her to go to Liberia, the woman says. Ebola cases there have fallen, but they need people who can rebuild the shattered medical system, teach about controlling infection. She won’t have direct contact with patients. Yes, she can still go to Sierra Leone if she wants to, and take care of patients there. The final decision is up to her.

So the choice is this: Be an instructor, safe, teaching other people how to wear a protective suit, or be the one wearing the suit. She is given a day to decide.

Ebola officially reached American shores on Sept. 30, when Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian visiting family in Dallas, tested positive for the virus. Preparing for a possible onslaught, Lenox Hill Hospital set up a room within the emergency department where Ebola patients would be isolated. The staff had to be trained in wearing protective gear, the stifling, fluid-proof layers that include bootees, gloves, gowns, goggles and face shields. The more Ms. Hallen learned, the more she wanted to know. She volunteered for advanced training. She started lingering on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I was looking at the case numbers and I started to become a little obsessed with everything that was going on over there, and how it was impacting us here,” she said.

She spoke of her newfound interest to her older sister, Kimberly, a real estate photographer, who sensed that this was more than a casual attraction. “She texted me saying she had volunteered to train how to handle Ebola if it came to New York City,” Kimberly recalled. “In the back of my head, I was like, ‘Oh, God, I feel like this is going to expand into her wanting to do a little bit more.’ But I kind of put it away. Maybe not.”

“She’s always been like this ever since she was little,” Kimberly Hallen said. “She was always the one who was trying to find the next fun thing to do. She was bored so easily.”

Lindsey Hallen, a slight blonde with eyes that shift from green to blue depending on the weather and her mood, grew up in suburban Cheshire, Conn., and was a communications major in college, but not a very serious one. “I was very social and that was what I cared about,” she said. After graduation, she moved to Hawaii, without knowing anyone or even having visited. “I was amazed how well everything fell into place,” she said.

She worked at an animal clinic and went to South Africa on an unpaid internship in wildlife conservation. After two years, she moved to Boston, where her sister lives, and began working at Global Vision International, the organization that had sponsored her internship. Her job sent her to South Africa, Guatemala and Costa Rica, to make sure projects were running smoothly. As a memento, she wears three bracelets on her right arm made of twisted copper and brass that she bought at street markets in South Africa. She never took them off, but she had to leave them with her sister before departing for Africa.

After three years, she wanted to grow. She thought about veterinary school, but she also wanted to travel. “Nursing came to mind as a perfect middle ground,” she said. Now, after two years in the E.R., the dread that she has done something wrong no longer wakes her at night. She can rattle off the medical script for an alcoholic with the shakes, a child with the flu or an elderly woman with a broken hip like someone reciting a Social Security number.

There has to be more to life than the three-block dash from her Upper East Side brownstone studio to the 8-a.m.-to-8-p.m. shift at Lenox Hill, and back.

The Ebola patient in Dallas died on Oct. 8, having set off a rapid chain of events. Two nurses who treated him fell ill, shaking confidence in the United States health care system. In mid-October, several New York hospitals volunteered to be Ebola treatment centers, including a sister hospital to Lenox Hill. On Oct. 23, Dr. Spencer, recently returned from Guinea, was rushed to Bellevue and tested positive. The next day, Kaci Hickox, a nurse returning from Sierra Leone through Newark Liberty International Airport, was forced into quarantine because of public officials’ fears.

Rather than being frightened, Ms. Hallen was swept away. Ebola was her 9/11, the disaster that nourished her sense of purpose.

Scrolling through the C.D.C. website, she came across a link to an application form for medical volunteers willing to go to West Africa, kind of like a universal college application online.

She recalls sending it in a few days after Ms. Hickox returned. Her first response, from Partners in Health, arrived on Halloween night. She sent back an email as she dressed for a Halloween party. She was not a sexy witch, or even a nurse. She wore a $12 zombie suit with a zipper splitting her face.

Still, she didn’t really think it would happen. And she assumed that even if she were selected, she would not be paid, and she could not afford that. But Partners in Health agreed to pay for her travel, expenses and medical insurance, as well as provide a stipend that would cover most of her lost salary for nine weeks; six weeks in West Africa and three weeks upon her return, during the disease’s incubation period. As a single person, she didn’t have to worry about disrupting anyone else’s life.

The agency also agreed to pay for her evacuation if she contracted Ebola — a further reminder of the dangers.

Her mother, Laura, cried when she heard the news. Her father, Dan, “had a million questions” but was proud of her.

“I think that she’s got the right mentality to perform in this type of environment,” Mr. Hallen said. “I guess what I would liken it to is firefighters that rush into a burning building when everyone else is running out. All I can say to that is, thank God for them. Where would we be without them?”

That mentality is not widely shared, the numbers suggest.

Since November, about 1,300 people have applied to travel to West Africa through Partners in Health, and about 360 have been hired, Sheila Davis, chief of the agency’s Ebola response, said. She said she was still looking for people with the right “humility,” but the number of applicants has declined as Ebola has moved off the front pages.

North Shore-LIJ Health System, the hospital network that includes Lenox Hill, has 54,000 employees. Ms. Hallen is only the second one to go to West Africa to treat Ebola, Joseph Moscola, the system’s chief of human resources, said. An informal survey of other New York City hospitals found few if any volunteers at most of them.

At some hospitals an internal debate rages over whether highly trained specialists should be volunteering to do menial work in African field hospitals or can make a better contribution at home, perhaps by doing Ebola research.

“Major academic institutions, you would think, would be those who would be pushing it,” Ms. Davis said. “But it’s the opposite. It’s definitely been Middle America, and California, but not the numbers you would think in Boston and New York.”

In preparation for Ms. Hallen’s trip, Partners in Health sent her a packing list. Mostly it is similar to a list for summer sleep-away camp: shampoo, toothbrush, underwear. But not entirely. She will need a headlamp, in case the electricity goes down, and some fancier clothes to wear for Embassy events. Also, styptic pencils to stanch cuts, and tampons, for nosebleeds, ominous inclusions in an environment where bodily fluids may be deadly. Ms. Hallen has scratched out the word “condoms.” She has enough contagion to worry about, she said. She trades email with other volunteers. Bring washable shoes, they say. Dried fruit, nuts and granola bars, to break the monotony of rice and beans.

She picks up her mosquito net at REI and jokes that she might use it to keep away the cockroaches in her apartment. Last night she slept with a hat on, haunted by a woman who had arrived at the emergency room with ear pain. The diagnosis: a cockroach stuck in her ear canal.

At the checkout counter, the brooding, longhaired salesman examines her basket and asks where she is going. “Sierra Leone or Liberia,” she replies.

“You should read this book,” he says, and on a scrap of paper writes the name Peter Piot, author of a memoir about the discovery of Ebola and AIDS.

The next night, she writes an email to the recruiter from Partners in Health. Deletes it. Writes it again. Presses “send” at 11:42 p.m.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, she was scheduled to fly to Sierra Leone, to care for people who are sick and dying of Ebola.

Source: www.nytimes.com

Topics: illness, sick, Ebola, outbreak, West Africa, epidemic, nursing, nurse, disease, medical, patients, hospital, treatment

Woman Who Saved Relatives From Ebola Coming To U.S. For Nursing School

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Dec 12, 2014 @ 10:18 AM

By Jen Christensen and Elizabeth Cohen

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A young Liberian woman who saved three of her relatives by nursing them back to health after they contracted the Ebola virus is coming to the United States to finish her nursing degree.

The news comes as Time magazine announced Wednesday that its "Person of the Year" honors go to the Ebola fighters, the "unprecedented numbers" of doctors and nurses who responded when Ebola overtook an already-weak public health infrastructure this year in West Africa.

Fatu Kekula is not named in the article, but she definitely holds a place among those being honored.

The 22-year-old, who was in her final year of nursing school earlier this year, single-handedly took care of her father, mother, sister and cousin when they became ill with Ebola beginning in July.

And she did so with remarkable success. Three out of her four patients survived. That's a 25% death rate -- considerably better than the estimated Ebola death rate of 70%.

Kekula stayed healthy, which is noteworthy considering that hundreds of health care workers have become infected with Ebola, and she didn't even have personal protection equipment -- those white space suits and goggles used in Ebola treatment units.

Instead, Kekula invented her own equipment. International aid workers heard about her "trash bag method" and taught it to other West Africans who can't get into hospitals and don't have protective gear of their own.

Every day, several times a day for about two weeks, Kekula put trash bags over her socks and tied them in a knot over her calves. Then she put on a pair of rubber boots and then another set of trash bags over the boots.

She wrapped her hair in a pair of stockings and over that a trash bag. Next she donned a raincoat and four pairs of gloves on each hand, followed by a mask.

It was an arduous and time-consuming process, but she was religious about it, never cutting corners.

UNICEF Spokeswoman Sarah Crowe said Kekula is amazing.

"Essentially this is a tale of how communities are doing things for themselves," Crowe said. "Our approach is to listen and work with communities and help them do the best they can with what they have."

She emphasized, of course, that it would be better for patients to be in real hospitals with doctors and nurses in protective gear -- it's just that those things aren't available to many West Africans.

No one knows that better than Kekula.

Her Ebola nightmare started July 27, when her father, Moses, had a spike in blood pressure. She took him to a hospital in their home city of Kakata.

A bed was free because a patient had just passed away. What no one realized at the time was that the patient had died of Ebola.

Moses, 52, developed a fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Then the hospital closed down because nurses started dying of Ebola.

Kekula took her father to Monrovia, the capital city, about a 90-minute drive via difficult roads. Three hospitals turned him away because they were full.

She took him back to another hospital in Kakata. They said he had typhoid fever and did little for him, so Kekula took him home, where he infected three other family members: Kekula's mother, Victoria, 57; Kekula's sister, Vivian, 28, and their 14-year-old cousin who was living with them, Alfred Winnie.

While operating her one-woman Ebola hospital for two weeks, Kekula consulted with their family doctor, who would talk to her on the phone, but wouldn't come to the house. She gave them medicines she obtained from the local clinic and fluids through intravenous lines that she started.

At times, her patients' blood pressure plummeted so low she feared they would die.

"I cried many times," she said. "I said 'God, you want to tell me I'm going to lose my entire family?' "

But her father, mother, and sister rallied and were well on their way to recovery when space became available at JFK Medical Center on August 17. Alfred never recovered, though, and passed away at the hospital the next day.

"I'm very, very proud," Kekula's father said. "She saved my life through the almighty God."

Her father immediately began working to find a scholarship for Kekula, so she could finish her final year of nursing school. But the Ebola epidemic shut down many of Liberia's schools, including hers.

After a story about Kekula ran on CNN in September, many people wanted to help her.

A non-profit group called iamprojects.org also got involved.

With some help, Kekula applied to Emory University in Atlanta, the campus with the hospital that has successfully cared for American Ebola patients. Emory accepted the young woman so that she could complete her nursing degree starting this winter semester.

In order to attend, iamprojects will have to raise $40,000 to pay for her reduced tuition rate, living expenses, books and her travel and visa so that she can travel between Africa and the United States.

Kekula's father has no doubt that his daughter will go on to save many more people during her lifetime.

"I'm sure she'll be a great giant of Liberia," he said.

Source: www.cnn.com

Topics: medical school, Ebola, West Africa, travel, education, nursing, health, nurse, medicine, death, treatment, degree, Liberia

Ebola Plush Toys For Kids "Selling Like Hot Cakes"

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Oct 24, 2014 @ 02:40 PM

By JOSHUA NORMAN

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With the Ebola outbreak dominating the national discourse, parents and caregivers are inevitably going to be confronted with the necessity of explaining the deadly and exotic disease to children.

One Connecticut company was already poised to help in that process, and it has seen a dramatic spike in sales as a result.

Giantmicrobes Inc. was founded about a decade ago with the intention of creating stuffed toys based on the actual microscopic images of various microbes as an educational tool for caregivers and young children, said Laura Sullivan, vice president of operations, in an interview with CBS News.

"It started with the common cold and similar things," Sullivan said. "It was marketed to pediatricians and parents initially. The idea is that kids respond favorably to stuffed animals."

The thinking is that children would be better able to understand what is happening in their body if they could see a softer, cuddlier version of it, Sullivan said.

Before long, the company's offerings expanded to a number of different of viruses and diseases, and the audience expanded with it.

About five years ago, the company began offering plush toys whose design was based on the microscopic image of the Ebola virus. Now, they are struggling to keep up with demand, Sullivan said.

While she declined to give specific sales figures for the Ebola plush toys, Sullivan said: "They're selling like hot cakes. We're out of stock again."

They have ramped up production with their Chinese manufacturers and are rushing to feed the demand, Sullivan said.

Their Ebola products - which include regular- and giant-sized plush recreations of the virus, as well a petri dish and something called "Primordial Putty" - are currently only available through the company's website, but much of the rest of their line can be found in everything from hospital gift shops to college bookstores to medical supply stores.

Sullivan said this isn't the first case of a headline-making disease affecting their sales. The swine flu outbreak a few years ago caused a similar spike in sales, but Sullivan added it was not quite at the level of Ebola.

"It's a neat little product," Sullivan said. "In the case of Ebola, it's been a helpful way for families talk about it and take some of the scariness away."

Source: www.cbsnews.com

Topics: Ebola, toys, disease, children

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg And Wife Donate $25 Million To Fight Ebola

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Oct 15, 2014 @ 11:34 AM

By  JAMES MARTIN

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan are donating $25 million to the CDC Foundation to help fight the Ebola epidemic, which has taken the lives of more than 4,000 people and continues to rage out of control in West Africa.

The donation will be used for the CDC Ebola response effort in the most severely affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and other areas of the world where the disease poses the greatest threat, the foundation said Tuesday.

"The Ebola epidemic is at a critical turning point," Zuckerberg said Tuesday in a statement posted on Facebook. "It has infected 8,400 people so far, but it is spreading very quickly and projections suggest it could infect 1 million people or more over the next several months if not addressed."

The CDC Foundation says the money will go towards urgent needs on the ground, including equipping community care centers, hiring and training local staff, identifying Ebola cases and tracing contacts, vehicles to be used for specimen transport, burial support, and translation services and communications -- all of which it says are vital to fighting the outbreak.

"The most important step we can take is to stop Ebola at its source," CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement. "The sooner the world comes together to help West Africa, the safer we all will be." He said today's "significant contribution from Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan will help us rapidly advance the fight against Ebola."

Source: www.cbsnews.com

Topics: Ebola, West Africa, epidemic, Mark Zuckerberg, Dr. Priscilla Chan, CDC, Facebook, donation

National Nursing Survey: 80% Of Hospitals Have Not Communicated An Infectious Disease Policy

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Oct 08, 2014 @ 11:55 AM

By Dan Munro

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Released on Friday, the survey of 700 Registered Nurses at over 250 hospitals in 31 states included some sobering preliminary results in terms of hospital policies for patients who present with potentially infectious diseases like Ebola.

  • 80% say their hospital has not communicated to them any policy regarding potential admission of patients infected by Ebola
  • 87% say their hospital has not provided education on Ebola with the ability for the nurses to interact and ask questions
  • One-third say their hospital has insufficient supplies of eye protection (face shields or side shields with goggles) and fluid resistant/impermeable gowns
  • Nearly 40% say their hospital does not have plans to equip isolation rooms with plastic covered mattresses and pillows and discard all linens after use, less than 10 percent said they were aware their hospital does have such a plan in place
  • More than 60% say their hospital fails to reduce the number of patients they must care for to accommodate caring for an “isolation” patient

National Nurses United (NNU) started the survey several weeks ago and released the preliminary results last Friday (here). The NNU has close to 185,000 members in every state and is the largest union of registered nurses in the U.S.

The release of the survey coincided with Friday’s swirling controversy on how the hospital in Dallas mishandled America’s first case of Ebola. The patient ‒ Thomas E. Duncan ‒ was treated and released with antibiotics even though the hospital staff knew of his recent travel from Liberia ‒ now the epicenter of this Ebola outbreak.

On October 2, the hospital tried to lay blame of the mishandled Ebola patient on their electronic health record (EHR) software with this statement.

Protocols were followed by both the physician and the nurses. However, we have identified a flaw in the way the physician and nursing portions of our electronic health records (EHR)interacted in this specific case. In our electronic health records, there are separate physician and nursing workflows. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Statement ‒ October 2 (here)

Within 24 hours, the hospital recanted the statement by saying no, in fact, “there was no flaw.”

The larger issue, of course, is just how ready are the more than 5,700 hospitals around the U.S. when it comes to diagnosing and then treating suspected cases of Ebola. Given the scale of the outbreak (a new case has now been reported in Spain ‒ Europe’s first), it’s very likely we’ll see more cases here in the U.S.

As an RN herself ‒ and Director of NNU’s Registered Nurse Response Network ‒ Bonnie Castillo was blunt.

What our surveys show is a reminder that we do not have a national health care system, but a fragmented collection of private healthcare companies each with their own way of responding. As we have been saying for many months, electronic health records systems can, and do, fail. That’s why we must continue to rely on the professional, clinical judgment and expertise of registered nurses and physicians to interact with patients, as well as uniform systems throughout the U.S. that is essential for responding to pandemics, or potential pandemics, like Ebola. Bonnie Castillo, RN ‒ Director of NNU’s Registered Nurse Response Network (press release)

As a part of their Health Alert Network (HAN), the CDC has been sounding the alarm since July ‒ and released guidelines for evaluating U.S. patients suspected of having Ebola through the HAN on August 1 (HAN #364). As a part of alert #364, the CDC was specific on recommending tests “for all persons with onset of fever within 21 days of having a high‒risk exposure.” Recent travel from Liberia in West Africa should have prompted more questioning around potential high-risk exposure ‒ which was, in fact, the case.

As it was, a relative called the CDC directly to question the original treatment of Mr. Duncan given all the circumstances.

“I feared other people might also get infected if he wasn’t taken care of, and so I called them [the CDC] to ask them why is it a patient that might be suspected of this disease was not getting appropriate care.” Josephus Weeks ‒ Nephew of Dallas Ebola patient to NBC News

The CDC has also activated their Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

The EOC brings together scientists from across CDC to analyze, validate, and efficiently exchange information during a public health emergency and connect with emergency response partners. When activated for a response, the EOC can accommodate up to 230 personnel per 8-hour shift to handle situations ranging from local interests to worldwide incidents.

The EOC coordinates the deployment of CDC staff and the procurement and management of all equipment and supplies that CDC responders may need during their deployment.

In addition, the EOC has the ability to rapidly transport life-supporting medications, samples and specimens, and personnel anywhere in the world around the clock within two hours of notification for domestic missions and six hours for international missions.

Source: Forbes

Topics: survey, Ebola, infectious diseases, policies, nursing, RN, nurse, nurses, disease, patients, hospitals

Why I became a human guinea pig

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Sep 22, 2014 @ 01:36 PM

By Caleb Hellerman

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Earlier this week, Brian Shepherd sat down in a small doctor's office in Bethesda, Maryland. A technician swabbed his arm and gave him a quick jab with a needle.

With that, Shepherd became subject No. 13 in the experiment testing a potential Ebola vaccine.

The trial was launched on an emergency basis earlier this month by the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Disease. It's the first to test this kind of Ebola vaccine in humans.

"It's not just for the money," Shepherd wrote in a Reddit AMA. "I'm very interested in translational research and experiencing it from the guinea pig side is very rewarding. But yeah, the money helps. This one study will fund most of my grad school application costs, though not in time for application season."

The vaccine doesn't use live virus and can't infect volunteers with Ebola. Instead it uses specific Ebola proteins to trigger an immune response. They're delivered through the body on a modified version of an adenovirus, a type of cold virus.

In the initial phase, 10 healthy volunteers were given a low dose of vaccine. They were monitored for side effects and tested to see if their bodies are producing antibodies. In the second phase, of which Brian is a part, an additional 10 volunteers are being given a higher dose.

All participants will be followed for nearly a year and tested at regular intervals.

Shepherd, who has volunteered for several prior research studies at NIH, spoke with CNN about his experience.

The following is a condensed version of that conversation:

CNN: How did you come to join the study?

Brian Shepherd: I actually work at NIH; I'm a post-doc researcher in a developmental biology lab. Most trials I learn about from reading a ListServ (email list).

I heard about the vaccine study from going to preliminary meetings for a different study.

CNN: When was this?

Shepherd: Less than a month ago. I had my first appointment on August 26. It was just a sit-down, to talk about the trial, go through paperwork and consent forms, explaining what the trial was for. Then they did an initial run-through of my health history.

CNN: What was next?

Shepherd: The next week I had my second appointment. They did a full physical, blood work, health history, breathing checks. A lot of poking and prodding. My third visit was Wednesday. They drew blood, then gave me a shot. Now, my next appointment is Sunday.

CNN: What was it like? You wrote that pulling off the Band-aid was the worst of the pain.

Shepherd: I'm supposed to keep a daily diary for the first seven days, logging my temperature and any symptoms. The next morning, I woke up with a slight fever, 100.5. I took some Tylenol and it went away.

Other than that I feel fine. In fact, I ran a half-mile in a relay race at lunchtime with some people from work.

CNN: You wrote that for each of these regular visits, you're paid $175. How many times have you been a human guinea pig?

Shepherd: This is my second drug trial. Before that, I did mostly MRI studies.

The first one I did, I was in the MRI machine and had three tasks. They gave me two buttons and showed pictures. If it was Spiderman, I'd hit one button; if it was the Green Goblin, I'd hit the other. So I spent 15 minutes playing Spiderman vs. Green Goblin.

CNN: Did you have any reservation at all, taking part in this Ebola vaccine trial?

Shepherd: None at all.

Source: http://www.cnn.com

Topics: Ebola, interview, volunteer, cures, healthcare, vaccine, medicine, testing

Ebola outbreak: Are hazmat suits necessary or counterproductive?

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, Sep 02, 2014 @ 02:35 PM

By LAURA GEGGEL

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For health care workers and researchers, wearing pressurized, full-body suits around Ebola patients may be counterproductive to treating the disease, say three Spanish researchers in a new letter published in the journal The Lancet. But other health experts, wary of wearing less protective gear, disagree.

Health agencies often require that health care workers caring for Ebola patients wear hazardous material (hazmat) suits that protect against airborne diseases. But the Ebola virus rarely spreads through the air, according to the researchers at the University of Valencia and Hospital La Paz-Carlos III, in Madrid.

Ebola is transmitted through contact with infected patients' secretions (such as blood, vomit or feces), and such contact can be prevented by wearing gloves and masks, the researchers wrote.

Wearing full-body protection gear is "expensive, uncomfortable, and unaffordable for countries that are the most affected," they said. It may also send the message that such protection against the virus is being preferentially given to health care workers and is out of reach to the general public, they wrote in their article. [Ebola Virus: 5 Things You Should Know].

Moreover, the image of health care workers in hazmat suits could lead to panic, causing people to flee the area and possibly spread the virus elsewhere, they added.

Instead, protective gear such as gloves, waterproof smocks, goggles, masks and isolated rooms may be enough to manage infected patients, so long as they are not hemorrhaging or vomiting, the letter said. "In control of infectious diseases, more is not necessarily better and, very often, the simplest answer is the best," the researchers wrote.

The current Ebola virus outbreak is the worst in history. It began in February 2014 in Guinea and has since infected people in Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, killing more than 1,500 people. Just 47 percent of infected patients have survived.

But other experts disagree with the researchers, saying a high level of protection against the virus is needed in places with struggling health care systems, including the countries in West Africa where the outbreak is raging.

"The authors have a point, but I don't think a very strong one," said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, who was not involved with the letter.

"It must indeed be unsettling for people to see folks in hazmat suits come into their communities," Schaffner told Live Science. "It's very foreign, and often increases their anxiety about events."

But it's better to err on the side of safety, he said. Because the Ebola virus does spread through contact with infected bodily fluids, if health care workers don't immediately clean up such excretions, it's possible these fluids could infect others not wearing appropriate protective gear.

Patients may also start vomiting or bleeding at any time, increasing the risk of infection for health care workers who are not wearing protective suits, he said.

"I would remind us that there are any number of health care workers, including Dr. [Kent] Brantly and Ms. [Nancy] Writebol, were using elaborate equipment in Africa and nonetheless became infected," Schaffner said. (Brantly and Writebol have both since recovered.)

In hospitals with cutting-edge technologies, such as Emory University Hospital, health care workers may not have to wear full-body suits for all Ebola patients, if the patients are on the mend, he said. If they are not displaying symptoms such as vomiting or bleeding, health care workers may be able to scale down their uniforms and use goggles and gloves in lieu of wearing hazmat suits, Schaffner said.

But "when you have a circumstance as hazardous as Ebola, it's important to be secure," Schaffner said.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com

Topics: virus, Ebola, health care, patients, hazmat suits, safety gear, health aids, experts

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