October 2014 – DALLAS – A second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who provided care for Thomas Eric Duncan has tested positive for Ebola, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced. The unidentified health care worker reported a fever Tuesday and was isolated at the hospital, authorities said. The preliminary Ebola test was run late Tuesday at the state public health laboratory in Austin, and results were received at about midnight, authorities said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has begun confirmation testing. Health officials interviewed the patient, hoping to track down any contacts or potential exposures in the community, the CDC said in a statement. “While this is troubling news for the patient, the patient’s family and colleagues and the greater Dallas community, the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services remain confident that wider spread in the community can be prevented with proper public health measures including ongoing contact tracing, health monitoring among those known to have been in contact with the index patient and immediate isolations if symptoms develop,” the CDC said in a statement.
The diagnosis follows days after nurse Nina Pham, 26, who also treated Duncan, was diagnosed with Ebola. Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola Sept. 30 and died Oct. 8. CDC Director Thomas Frieden had previously suggested that Pham may not be the only person who became infected while treating Duncan. “It is possible that other individuals could have been infected,” Frieden said. Ebola has killed more than 4,000 people, mostly in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to recent figures by the World Health Organization. –ABC
Claims made by nurses: On the day that Duncan was admitted to the hospital with possible Ebola symptoms, he was “left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area where other patients were present,” union co-president Deborah Burger said. Up to seven other patients were present in that area, the nurses said, according to the union. A nursing supervisor faced resistance from hospital authorities when the supervisor demanded that Duncan be moved to an isolation unit, the nurses said, according to the union.
Claim: The nurses’ protective gear left their necks exposed: After expressing concerns that their necks were exposed even as they wore protective gear, the nurses were told to wrap their necks with medical tape, the union says. “They were told to use medical tape and had to use four to five pieces of medical tape wound around their neck. The nurses have expressed a lot of concern about how difficult it is to remove the tape from their neck,” Burger said.
Claim: At one point, hazardous waste piled up – “There was no one to pick up hazardous waste as it piled to the ceiling,” Burger said. “They did not have access to proper supplies.”
Claim: Nurses got no ‘hands-on’ training – “There was no mandate for nurses to attend training,” Burger said, though they did receive an email about a hospital seminar on Ebola. “This was treated like hundreds of other seminars that were routinely offered to staff,” she said.
Claim: The nurses ‘feel unsupported’ – So why did the group of nurses — the union wouldn’t say how many — contact the nursing union, which they don’t belong to? According to DeMoro, the nurses were upset after authorities appeared to blame nurse Pham, who has contracted Ebola, for not following protocols. “This nurse was being blamed for not following protocols that did not exist. … The nurses in that hospital were very angry, and they decided to contact us,” DeMoro said. And they’re worried conditions at the hospital “may lead to infection of other nurses and patients,” Burger said. A hospital spokesman did not respond to the specific allegations, but said patient and employee safety is the hospital’s top priority. –WCTI