Funding Cuts Cripple U.S. Public Health Ability To Respond to Ebola Threat
October 14, 2014 • 9:21AM

Robert M. Pestronk, the Washington-based executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials emphasized in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post, published Monday, that budget cuts to the U.S. health-care system have already weakened that system to such an extent that the additional pressures that will be brought on the system by emergencies such as Ebola cases will push the system over the edge.

He stated that “yearly funding cuts jeopardize our ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from public health emergencies outside of traditional clinical settings where most of our lives are spent and where exposure to infectious disease and other unhealthy conditions also happens.” He explained that “More than half of local health departments rely solely on the federal funding for emergency response. With it they detect disease outbreaks, dispense life-saving medications and provide accurate and timely information to their communities.”

He pointed out that “Even a few Ebola patients in many communities could overwhelm local health-department budgets and strain the workforce.” He emphasized that for the health-care system to function effectively, “Congress must sufficiently and sustainably fund local, state and federal public health agencies. They are a shield that protects the lives and health of all Americans.”

National Nurses Union Demands Highest Standards for Protective Equipment, Including Hazmat Suits, and Training

National Nurses United has launched a mobilization and press campaign to drastically upgrade protective equipment and training in U.S. hospitals to meet the threat of spread of the Ebola virus in the U.S. The infection of one Dallas nurse has thrown a spotlight on the inadequate preparation of the U.S. healthcare system to meet the Ebola threat.

The NNU conducted a national survey which 2,000 RNs at more than 750 facilities in 46 states responded to, which produced shocking findings about the inadequacy of supplies and training in U.S. hospitals as of midday Oct. 12:

*76% said their hospital had not yet communicated to them any policy regarding potential admission of patients infected by Ebola;

*85% say their hospital has not provided education on Ebola with the ability for nurses to interact and ask questions;

*37% say their hospital has insufficient current supplies of eye protection (face shields or side shields with goggles) for daily use on their unit; 36% say there are insufficient supplies of fluid resistant/impermeable gowns in their hospital;

*39% say their hospital does not have plans to equip isolation rooms with plastic covered mattresses and pillows, and to discard all linens after use; only 8% said they were aware their hospital does have such a plan in place.

The NNU is calling for all U.S. hospitals to immediately implement a full emergency preparedness plan for Ebola, or other disease outbreaks. That includes:

*Full training of hospital personnel, along with proper protocols and training materials for responding to outbreaks, with the ability for nurses to interact and ask questions.

*Adequate supplies of hazardous materials (hazmat) suits and other personal protective equipment.

*Properly equipped isolation rooms to assure patient, visitor, and staff safety.

*Proper procedures for disposal of medical waste and linens after use.

NNU held a rally in Oakland, California today in front of Kaiser Permanente, getting out the message of inadequate training and supplies. They will hold a national call Wednesday afternoon for all nurses, which media can listen to, and, after the nurses’ questions, ask questions.

National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in U.S. history.

For Want of a President, the Nation Was Lost?

Obama, the man play-acting as U.S. President, responded to the Ebola threat to the U.S. as follows:

Oct. 10: “I want to assure everybody that the likelihood of any epidemic here in the United States is extraordinarily small, but there’s a humanitarian crisis that’s happening right now in West Africa...”

Oct. 12: CDC Director Thomas Frieden says that the transmission of the Ebola infection to the Dallas nurse who cared for patient Thomas Eric Duncan, was the result of a professional lapse in following mandated protocols.

Oct. 12: Obama, briefed on the Ebola infection of the Dallas nurse, made a public statement ordering the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate “the apparent breach of infection control procedures at the Texas hospital that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, who died”;

Oct. 12: Obama then played his 200th game of golf as President on Sunday afternoon;

Oct. 13: CDC Director Thomas Frieden apologized for his initial remark that the Dallas nurse’s Ebola infection was the result of her breach of protocols, and said he did not mean to blame the nurse: “People on the front lines are really protecting all of us.” Frieden warns that a “relatively large” number of health-care workers could be at risk.

Oct. 13: Obama ordered Federal authorities to “take immediate additional steps to ensure hospitals and health-care providers nationwide are prepared to follow protocols should they encounter an Ebola patient.”