National Nurses United, the largest union of registered nurses in the country, said that more than 80 percent of nurses the union surveyed report they have not been given adequate training on Ebola.
Seventy-six percent of nurses surveyed report their hospitals have not issued adequate policies on how to deal with patients who might be infected with Ebola.
“We are seeing that hospitals are not prepared,” said Bonnie Castillo, director of Registered Nurse Response Network, which is part of National Nurses United. “They are not doing active drilling and education they need to be doing.”
Castillo said most of the nurses surveyed reported they have received only single pages of information about Ebola that refers them to a Web site.
“That is woefully insufficient,” Castillo said. “We have to continue to sound the alarm. There is the potential for many more Dallases if hospitals are not mandated and do not commit to more vigorous standards. We see potential gaping holes for this to spread.”
Castillo said the union has been trying to contact nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man diagnosed with Ebola, died Wednesday.
“That hospital has issued a directive to all hospital staff not to speak to press,” Castillo said. “That is a grave concern because we need to hear from those front-line workers. We need to hear what happened there. … They have them on real lockdown. There is great fear. This hospital is not represented by a union. Our sense is they are afraid to speak out.”
Castillo said when she heard the news Sunday morning that a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian had been diagnosed with Ebola, she reacted with anger.
“I am angry because it was preventable in this country,” Castillo said. “We should be able to contain and eradicate it, but hospitals are not providing adequate training.
Castillo said she is concerned about other nurses working on the front lines.
“I’m fearful for my nurse colleagues who are putting it on the line when they walk through hospital doors,” Castillo said. “They walk through those doors every day and they know they could be exposed to infectious disease. The hospitals are not providing them with measures they need — the equipment, education and training, and without that, we know they are at great risk.”