by Krystle Crossman
Talk about Ebola is all around. How can we contain it? How do we treat those who have been infected? How do we stop it from spreading? The government and CDC state that here in the U.S. we have everything under control, but do we really? One Hazmat-trained medical professional from Maine says no; most of the country is not prepared. But it is not because this disease is tricky. It is because there is a severe lack of communication and preparedness with hospitals and their staff when it comes to the safety equipment that is used when treating patients with Ebola or Ebola-like symptoms.
Personal protective equipment, PPE, is something that is used in every hospital and healthcare clinic in the country. It includes gloves, masks, and Hazmat suits. The problem is that a lot of healthcare workers are not taught how to properly use the Hazmat suits that are needed to stop the spread of infection when caring for a very sick person. There is a hood that you must wear, multiple layers of gloves, boots, a body suit, and everything must be taped shut in just the right way. The healthcare worker who tells her story said that she went through rigorous FEMA training and so the ins and outs of Hazmat suits were drilled into her. But she wonders about other hospitals.
She works in a small hospital in Maine where they are able to have communication with one another and can take the time to properly train their staff on how to use PPE correctly. However, larger hospitals may not have the communication necessary to take the right precautions. The nurses that were infected after treating Thomas Duncan, the man in Dallas who died from Ebola, most likely were not wearing the proper PPE.
Ebola is not inherently an airborne disease but it is found in bodily fluids. When those fluids become airborne, so does the virus. If someone coughs, sneezes, or vomits near you the virus can travel through the air and you have the possibility of becoming infected. However with the proper training and proper equipment you can reduce or altogether prevent the transfer of the virus.
In order to limit the spread of this disease and a host of others that may come our way, it is important for hospitals and clinics to step up the communication and ensure that all of their staff is prepared and trained.