Tags: Ebola Outbreak | texas | nurse | ebola | protection | equipment

Texas Nurse: Hospital Didn't Give Us Proper Ebola Protection

By    |   Thursday, 16 Oct 2014 10:15 PM

A nurse who helped treat Ebola patient Nina Pham at a Texas hospital says she wasn't provided proper equipment and that the hospital chose not to move faster to get it.

Briana Aguirre works at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital, where patient Thomas Eric Duncan was treated before he died last week. Pham and another nurse, Amber Vinson, both have tested positive for Ebola after treating Duncan.

Aguirre told CNN's  "Anderson Cooper 360" that she believes both nurses caught the virus because they were inadequately trained and were given equipment that didn't completely cover their bodies.

Though she said she feared losing her job for speaking out, Aguirre said she wouldn't want to be treated at her own hospital if she ends up contracting Ebola.

"I would do anything and everything not to be a patient there," she said.

Aguirre said no one ever spoke to her about Ebola and she never saw her colleagues being told what to look for or how to be prepared. The only class ever offered was a one-time seminar that wasn’t mandatory.

"It wasn't suggested that we go," Aguirre said.

When Pham tested positive for Ebola, a group of nurses was asked if anyone had experience or training. None of the nurses in the room spoke up, "indicating that none of them were either going to come forward or none of them were going to admit they'd been trained so that they were put in there," Aguirre told CNN.

Next, they asked for volunteers, and Aguirre was one who stepped forward.

She said a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention representative guided them through the process of putting on either a Tyvek or DuPont hazmat suit, depending on the person's size. They also were given two sets of surgical boot covers, a long pair of gloves that were taped to the suit and then another pair of gloves. A hood was put over their heads and they were giving a breathing machine and a face shield.

But that left everyone's neck exposed. When Aguirre asked what sense it made to cover everyone so extensively but leave the neck —  so close to the mouth and nose — exposed, they could explain only that better gear was on order.

"I immediately felt like it was ridiculous," she said, adding that sanitation workers who dispose of the waste from Ebola patients are better protected.

Aguirre then talked to charge nurses, supervisors, house supervisors, the CDC, and the Office of Infectious Diseases.

"I raised a stink with anyone and everyone," she said.

The equipment could have been borrowed from another hospital in the system, she said, but "they chose not to do that."

Pham and Vinson, she believes, had the same suits when dealing with Duncan, who was much sicker and more contagious.

"They put their lives on the line and without the proper equipment," she said.

Aguirre also said used equipment was allowed to pile up in a room and in a hallway in the isolation unit. She said she told people it needed to be removed.

"It was just piling up," she said.

Though the hallway was in the isolation unit, Aguirre said CDC and Infectious Diseases officials were walking up and down the hall with no protective gear and then going into areas that were supposed to be "clean."

"They promised to be transparent, and they promised to put their employees' safety as their No. 1 priority. And I feel lied to, and I know so many other people that do as well," Aguirre said.

Wendell Watson, director of public relations for Texas Presbyterian Hospital, addressed Aguirre's concerns of being fired in a statement to CNN.

"Her employment status is the same today as it was yesterday. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about her observations when she is willing," the statement read.

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A nurse who helped treat Ebola patient Nina Pham at a Texas hospital says she wasn't provided proper equipment and that the hospital chose not to move faster to get it.
texas, nurse, ebola, protection, equipment
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2014-15-16
Thursday, 16 Oct 2014 10:15 PM
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