Ebola: Can the Medical Community Alone Stop This Disease?

October 9, 2014

I have been following the Ebola updates everyday, and despite the confident conclusion of many people saying “it’s all under control,” I’m still left concerned (Note: I didn’t say panicked, I said concerned.). Thomas Eric Duncan who was the first to bring Ebola into the United States exposing about 100 people including children to this deadly virus, died Wednesday and proved that this truly is a public health issue that could affect us all. Today, the director of the CDC said the only thing that compared to this Ebola outbreak was AIDs. The CDC released a report that said up to 1.4 million people will be infected with Ebola by the end of the year. The current death rate is a startling 50-60%. While I do think the CDC is doing an excellent job in containment of Ebola, here are my concerns:

1. Criticism of Texas Presbyterian Hospital. The hospital that treated Mr. Duncan is under major fire for caring for him on September 26th in the ER and then discharging him without figuring out that he had Ebola. The family claims that Thomas told a nurse in the hospital that he came from Liberia. He wasn’t admitted to the hospital until two days later, and Ebola wasn’t diagnosed until September 30th. Do you know how many patients come into the ER everyday across the US with fever and abdominal pain? Hundreds of Thousands!  Anyone who has ever been to an ER knows that they are the Grand Central Station of the hospital. The hustle and bustle of being responsible for hundreds and hundreds of sick people and all their emergencies is simply overwhelming in the current state of our healthcare and I have huge respect for my medical comrades that do it. Even if Thomas did tell someone that he came from Liberia, the question would be who did he actually tell? Could they even understand his accent? He knew he was exposed to Ebola and didn’t say that, but apparently he didn’t have any qualms about exposing an entire ER full of people and medical providers to this disease. Instead of blaming the hospital and care team, I am going to pray that everyone he exposed is protected.

 2. National Nurses United conducted a survey to over 1,700 RNs in 35 different states. RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, said, “Now, everyone should recognize that Texas is not an island either, and as we’ve heard from nurses across the U.S., hospitals here are not ready to confront this deadly disease.” Here are the survey findings:

    • 76 percent still say their hospital has not communicated to them any policy regarding potential admission of patients infected by Ebola
    • 85 percent say their hospital has not provided education on Ebola with the ability for the nurses to interact and ask questions
    • 35 percent say their hospital has insufficient current supplies of eye protection (face shields or side shields with goggles) for daily use on their unit
    • 36 percent say there are insufficient supplies of fluid resistant/impermeable gowns in their hospital
    • 39 percent say their hospital does not have plans to equip isolation rooms with plastic covered mattresses and pillows and discard all linens after use; only 8 percent said they were aware their hospital does have such a plan in place

Ebola: Can the Medical Community Alone Stop This Disease?3. The Spanish nurse with Ebola who helped care for the Ebola-stricken priest is deteriorating, and now the two physicians who helped care for her are under observation. Spain knowingly accepted this priest with Ebola; it wasn’t a surprise. All medical providers were prepared ahead of time with equipment and infectious disease precautions. But somehow, either the equipment or the health providers failure in using them correctly lead to more spread of the disease. No matter what you believe, this event continues to prove the contagious nature of Ebola. Despite wearing this hazmat equipment, this Spanish nurse is still fighting for her life.

 4. Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, confirmed on CNN that anyone within 3 feet of an infected individual would be considered a “direct contact.” Watch this video:


5. Now America is screening for fevers and obvious symptoms of illness at five major airports. This measure will only identify some people carrying Ebola. Because Ebola has an incubation period of up to 21 days, people can carry this virus for 3 weeks without showing symptoms, not to mention that simply taking Advil on a plane would mask a fever as well. While Ebola is not contagious to others until symptoms are present, many people with Ebola will still easily enter the US only to show symptoms later and expose many more. Relying on the honesty system to prevent people exposed or carrying Ebola worldwide isn’t safe.

Currently, America is on the defensive instead of the offensive when it comes to Ebola. Relying on the medical community alone to stop the Ebola outbreak is comparable to calling the police to a murder scene and asking then to clean up the blood. As medical providers, we treat disease. The CDC is doing an excellent job tracking down contacts and putting people under quarantine. But please realize, this is not the best form of prevention. In America right now, we can only detect Ebola once symptoms have become severe and the probability for others being exposed is extremely high. For this reason, I agree with the majority of Americans and believe that as a country we need to stop all non-essential flights to west Africa (non-essential wouldn’t preclude the amazing medical volunteers risking their lives to help the people of Africa from traveling). We also need to include the people of Africa battling Ebola in our prayers, as well as the victims worldwide. I eagerly await for medical advancements to find out how to treat and prevent Ebola, but in the mean time, America has to change it’s game-plan.


What do you think? Please leave me a comment below!

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