A nurse who works at the Dallas hospital that has seen two Ebola cases went on the “Today” show Thursday morning to publicly decry her hospital’s response to the crisis.
Briana Aguirre has been a nurse for seven years and has worked at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas for three.
She says the hospital botched its response to Dallas’ Ebola cases and that hospital staff members were completely unprepared to handle Ebola.
“I can no longer defend my hospital at all,” Aguirre said. “I watched them violate basic principles of nursing care, of medical care.”
The first person found to have Ebola in the US was Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who went to the emergency room at Texas Health Presbyterian once he started showing some flu-like symptoms. He reportedly told staff that he had recently traveled from West Africa, which is in the midst of a massive Ebola outbreak, but he was reportedly told he had a minor infection and sent home.
Duncan, who flew from Liberia to the US for a visit before he started showing symptoms, returned to the hospital days later after his symptoms worsened. He was then tested for Ebola and isolated. Duncan died last week.
Nurses at the hospital say they didn’t initially have proper protective gear when they were caring for Duncan and that waste piled up to the ceiling because they didn’t have the means to properly dispose of it.
“We never talked about Ebola and we probably should have,” Aguirre said. “We never had a discussion. They gave us an optional seminar to go to, just informational, not hands-on, and it wasn’t even suggested that we go.”
Aguirre said the nurses and hospital staff didn’t even know what sort of protocol to follow when Duncan came to the hospital.
Nurses allege that Duncan was left out in the open with other patients for hours when he came to the emergency room and that doctors and nurses could have tracked Duncan’s bodily fluids through the hospital when they left his room to go care for other patients.
“I expected more out of us,” Aguirre said. “Anyone without medical knowledge would know you cannot go from one person with a potentially deadly virus to another patient’s room without disinfecting in between. Anyone would know that and I was standing there as an infectious disease nurse was telling a doctor to do just that.”
The hospital eventually got hazmat suits for nurses and staff who care for Ebola patients, but they reportedly leave the front of the neck exposed, which Aguirre said is a cause for concern. Some nurses have used medical tape in an attempt to close the gap and prevent being exposed to contagious fluids.
Texas Health Presbyterian released a statement Thursday saying workers followed guidelines established by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention once Duncan was diagnosed.
Watch the full interview below:
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