Reuters has reported that as many as 18,000 nurses plan to walk off the job on November 12th in response to what they say are inadequate protections for staff when treating patients possibly infected with the Ebola virus. The strike is being organized by the National Nurses United (NNU) — one of the country’s largest nursing unions in conjunction with their affiliate, the California Nurses Association (CNA). The union says it is demanding full-body hazmat suits, powered air-purifying respirators, and more rigorous training for nurses across the country.
“Nurses, who have been willing to stand by the patients whether it’s the flu, whether it’s Ebola, whether it’s cancer, now they’re being asked to put themselves in harm’s way unprotected, unguarded,” says Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of NNU. In addition to the walkouts, nurses nationwide plan to engage in protests on Nov. 12, including picketing and coordinating bake sales to raise money for hazmat suits for nurses, DeMoro said.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention heightened its recommendations for personal protective equipment (PPE) to include hooded full-body suits to cover the neck, increased frequency of hand washing, and a designated supervisor to oversee the removal of infected gear. Experts say these recommendations should have been implemented long ago.
But advocates for nurses say the recommendations should go further, and should be standardized and mandatory in all healthcare settings. The nurses union has circulated a petition asking Congress or President Barack Obama to declare a national standard.
If you’re interested in resources that can help your organization prepare for Ebola and other infectious diseases, HealthcareSource customer University of Nebraska Medical Center HEROES Center has created videos, hand-outs, and other resources to help train healthcare workers about Ebola and the CDC’s more stringent PPE guidelines. Should you have questions about other available resources, or need information or advice about ramping up a training program, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.