Nurses to strike over lack of Ebola prep

CDC ups protective equipment; quarantines may scare off aid volunteers
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Thousands of Kaiser Permanente nurses will strike this week over what they claim are insufficient safeguards against Ebola, Medical Daily reports.

National Nurses United (NNU) members cite Ebola preparedness as a flashpoint for the strike, set to begin Tuesday, but also express concern over a general problem with patient care standards and Kaiser's refusal to address them.

"In negotiations earlier today," NNU said in an announcement on Thursday, "Kaiser continued to stonewall on dozens of proposals to improve patient care standards, as well as refusing to address the concern of Kaiser RNs [registered nurses] about Ebola safety protocols and protective equipment." 

Amber Vinson, one of two nurses at Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas who contracted the virus while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., also criticized hospital preparedness for Ebola cases on The Today Show Thursday. Duncan died in early October. 

"The first time that I put on the protective equipment, I was heading in to take care of the patient," Vinson said. "We didn't have excessive training where we could don and doff, put on and take off the protective equipment, till we got a level of being comfortable with it. I didn't have that, and I think that's very important for hospitals across the nation, big and small."

Vinson's remarks come as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would increase the supply of Ebola-specific personal protective equipment (PPE) to U.S. hospitals. The CDC will assemble $2.7 million in PPE into 50 kits. "Although the number of kits is limited, they will help address short-term PPE needs," the announcement states. "Purchases include impermeable gowns, coveralls, and aprons; boot covers; gloves; face shields and hoods; N95 respirators; powered-air purifying respirator systems and ancillaries; and disinfecting wipes."

Meanwhile, the mandatory quarantines established in several states, along with the potential social stigma, may scare aid workers away from volunteering to help with the outbreak in West Africa, the Associated Press reports. "People are afraid what will happen when their kid goes back to school, what their family will think," Joia Mukherjee, M.D., chief medical officer of aid organization Partners in Health, told the AP.

To learn more:
- here's the Medical Daily article
- read the NNU announcement
- watch Vinson's interview
- read the CDC announcement
- here's the AP article

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