Ebola crisis: Colorado health care professionals train to protect themselves

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DENVER -- The vast majority of nurses in America feel unprepared to take on the Ebola crisis, according to a survey released Monday by a national nurses union.

The president at the Visiting Nurse Association in Denver says the crisis is happening so quickly, the information hasn't caught up at hospital bedsides, in urgent care centers and inside homes of those that are sick.

"Health care workers have always been at risk," says Laura Reilly. "The anxiety level of I think everyone has raised since that news broke."

The nurses are voicing vulnerability after a nurse at a Texas hospital who cared for an Ebola patient who died was diagnosed with the disease. That's despite the fact she was wearing protective gear while caring for the man.

"You don`t expect to contract a deadly disease with even a minor breach.  And no one really knows what happened," Reilly says.

Reilly says she's turning to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information about steps the nurses in her organization should be taking to protect themselves. "It's a major concern for us that we stay on top of the info and know as much as anyone knows."

The Chief of Infectious Diseases at University of Colorado Hospital says it's clear where training of staff needs to focus. "In both the African hospitals, here and in Spain it turns out that the weakest link in the chain appears to be the taking off of the protective clothing so we are looking at that very hard now," says Dr.  Eric Poeschla.

He's confident his team at University Hospital is prepared because of the training they're doing. "Everything from the top management of the hospital to the waste disposal crew has been talked to and drilled. We know how to do this safely; it's a matter of being organized."

Dr. Poeschla says the CDC recommends a buddy system where health care professionals will always have someone watching them as they remove their protective gear and equipment. That way they can point out any mistakes in the process before they become an issue.

It's what they're already practicing at University Hospital.

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1 Comment

  • Robert Gift

    Nonsense.
    RNs know about BSI (Body Substance Isolation).
    The same precautions and procedures apply to other communicable diseases.
    You don protective suits, masks, eye protection, face shields, gloves, possible positive air flow,
    work carefully
    and doff everything properly so that neither you nor anyonelse is contaminated.

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