Nurses union to strike over inadequate Ebola protection

But remember, voters… there’s nothing to worry about. We’ve got the entire situation under control.

Nurses across the United States will stage protest rallies and strikes on Wednesday over what they say is insufficient protection for health workers dealing with patients possibly stricken with the deadly Ebola virus.

The California-based nurses’ union, National Nurses United, says hospitals still lack enough hazardous materials suits which leave no skin exposed and sufficient powered air-purifying respirators to properly protect nurses from exposure.

“Inadequate preparedness for Ebola symbolizes the erosion of patient care standards generally,” National Nurses United spokesman Charles Idelson said on Tuesday.

So in response to this, the CDC is saying they have ordered $2.7M worth of protective gear to help hospitals equip their nurses and doctors who may have to care for Ebola patients. But it doesn’t sound like a lack of gear is the real issue. We’ve had to deal with many infectious diseases before. The confusing and frequently shifting standards for how medical workers are supposed to use the equipment is probably the larger issue.

This isn’t exactly a “strike” in the traditional sense of the word. The nurses won’t be walking off the job, skipping their shifts or neglecting patients. Some, however, will hold rallies and demonstrations to raise awareness regarding the lack of equipment, and a vigil outside the White House is planned. I don’t often have a lot of compliments to ladle out to unions, but that’s a pretty good approach. Far more so than other occupations, medical staff really can’t afford to simply leave their posts en masse. The result would too often be the sickness or even death of patients.

But we have to ask the question which this story seems to beg. We keep being told over and over again that all is well. Nothing to see here. Move along. And it’s true that, for the moment, there is not a single known instance of Ebola in the country at the time of this writing. But there are thousands in Africa, and planes and boats are still crossing the ocean. If the professionals who are charged with caring for us have this little faith in our state of readiness, how much stock should we put in that?