Tags: Ebola Outbreak | MidPoint | Betsy McCaughey | Ebola | Doctors Without Borders | Quarantine

Betsy McCaughey: Doctors Without Borders Must Quarantine for Ebola

By    |   Friday, 24 Oct 2014 02:59 PM

Caregivers treating Ebola patients in Africa for aid groups such as Doctors Without Borders should undergo quarantine before they leave hot zones to prevent another case like that of Craig Spencer, the New York physician who came home infected, says healthcare expert Betsy McCaughey.

"We look at this case and of course all of our prayers are with this young man; we hope he recovers," McCaughey told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Friday. "But it's also important to try to prevent another incident of this nature, because it is very threatening to our healthcare workers here in the United States, and in this case in New York City."

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Spencer, 33, was reportedly in stable condition on Friday in an isolation unit at New York's Bellevue Hospital. Following three cases in Dallas — one fatal — he is the fourth person to become sickened with Ebola while inside the United States.

The Manhattan resident developed a fever and tested positive for the virus Thursday, six days after arriving back in New York through an Ebola screening hub, John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Until Oct. 14, Spencer had been on the front lines for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, one of three West African nations battling the infectious disease. Local officials are scrambling to trace his movements and contacts since his return.

McCaughey, chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and a former New York lieutenant governor, said Spencer's case offers three lessons: the limited effectiveness of screening people at airports; the importance of quarantining healthcare workers in the field; and the threat Ebola poses even to medical professionals using protective gear.

McCaughey praised Doctors Without Borders for its "altruistic" work, but said the organization "does not quarantine the doctors and nurses who are directly providing care for Ebola patients, before those doctors and nurses get back on a commercial flight and fly to the United States or to Europe or to Australia or somewhere else in the world."

"That's a very dangerous practice," McCaughey said, adding that she contacted Doctors Without Borders on Friday to confirm their nonquarantine policy.

"The spokesperson said, 'Well, they wear protective gear,'" said McCaughey. "But we know that that protective gear isn't enough, that some 16 Doctors Without Borders staff members have become infected with Ebola this year, and nine have died from it.

"And, of course, it's so difficult to use this protective gear that many other caregivers in Africa have died despite wearing this gear," she said. "A nurse in Spain who was wearing similar gear became infected as she removed the gear: She inadvertently brushed her gloved finger against her cheek.

"So we need to tighten up these controls because Doctors Without Borders and other groups like the Red Cross should be quarantining direct care workers rather than allowing them to get right back on a plane," said McCaughey.

McCaughey also said that given the delicacy and complexity of handling protective gear, and the evolving U.S. protocols for medical workers treating Ebola, no local hospital should be required to treat an infected patient — and that includes Bellevue in New York.

"The most important thing is for this patient, and any other patient diagnosed with Ebola, to be taken to one of those four [federal] bio-containment centers in Maryland, Georgia, Nebraska or Montana rather than risking treating them in New York City hospitals," she said.

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Caregivers treating Ebola patients in Africa for groups such as Doctors Without Borders should undergo quarantine before they leave hot zones to prevent another case like that of Craig Spencer, the physician who came home infected, says healthcare expert Betsy McCaughey.
Betsy McCaughey, Ebola, Doctors Without Borders, Quarantine
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2014-59-24
Friday, 24 Oct 2014 02:59 PM
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