DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Unprepared, unsupported and lied to — those are the words being used by the National Nurses United Union. They say Texas Presbyterian Hospital Dallas did not protect its nurses, including Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, when they treated now deceased Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan.
Dallas nurses working for Texas Presbyterian Hospital are not members of that National Nurses United Union, but they are using them to tell their side of the story. They are frustrated, angry and say what happened here in Dallas can happen anywhere if things don’t change.
When Fort Worth Dr. Kent Brantley arrived at Emory Hospital in Atlanta for treatment in August he was dressed from head to toe with protective gear. But he wasn’t the only one. First responders helping him were also in hazmat suits.
This gear the National Nurses United Union says Dallas nurses should have been wearing at all times when treating Thomas Eric Duncan, but weren’t.
“There were no protocols in place,” Deborah Burger, President National Nurses United, said. “And nurses and doctors in the hospital were having to come up with their own protocols and figure out what they were supposed to wear when they brought Mr. Duncan back in.”
Union leaders say the gowns used by Texas Presbyterian Hospital nurses only covered down to the knees, goggles or face masks left parts of the neck exposed and even though several layers of gloves were used they weren’t taped initially.
In a press conference Wednesday CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden admitted issues with protective gear might be to blame for these nurses contracting Ebola.
“By putting on more layers of gloves or other protective clothing, it becomes much harder to put them on and it becomes much harder to take them off. And the risk of contamination during the process of taking these gloves off gets much higher,” Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters.
Texas Presbyterian Hospital refused to answered specific questions about protective gear but they continue to defend their response given the circumstances.
“We’re a hospital that may have done some things different with the benefit of what we know today but make no mistake no one wants to get this right more than our hospital,” Dr. Dan Vargas, Texas Presbyterian Hospital Executive VP, said.
The National Nurses United Union sent a letter to President Obama asking to use his executive power to implement mandatory protocols for all hospitals that treat Ebola patients. One of those protocols includes supplying staff with full body hazmat suits.
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