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California Nurses Call for Transparency, Preparedness during Ebola Scare

SACRAMENTO—

The California Nurses Association, the nation’s largest nurses union, is calling for transparency, preparedness, and strict adherence to medical guidelines in light of a potential Ebola case in Sacramento.

According to Kaiser Permanente and public health authorities, the patient, who recently traveled to Sacramento from West Africa, is being treated in isolation at Kaiser South Sacramento Medial Center for possible exposure to the Ebola virus. Blood samples have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control for testing.

“This brings a lot of concern to the front line staff because it’s unprecedented,” said Mia Pinto-Ochoa, a nurse at Kaiser South Sacramento.  “We have never dealt with the Ebola virus specifically before.”

Pinto-Ochoa spoke out Wednesday afternoon as a member of the California Nurses Association.  She said the potential Ebola case provided a good test of the hospital’s readiness to handle such a serious disease.  She credits Kaiser for a smooth response.

“Everything happened pretty fast and furious, and Kaiser pulled together very rapidly,” Pinto-Ochoa remarked.  “They have a team in place.”

But she said there is room for improvement, especially considering the flow of information from management to staff members inside the hospital.

“Some of the nurses found out through fellow colleagues,” she told FOX40. “Or heard about it on the news or the internet.”

A spokesperson from Kaiser Permanente released a statement regarding hospital communication with staff members. The statement reads:

“We have been and are continuing to take all appropriate precautions following CDC guidelines to protect the safety of everyone at our South Sacramento hospital.

All staff caring for the patient received appropriate training.

Tuesday afternoon we began informing all of our employees in person that a patient was being tested to rule out Ebola virus and reviewed proper infection control procedures. Employees continued to receive information today, and our employee health and infectious disease specialists are available to answer any questions they may have.”

“We don’t want to create fear and pandemonium,” Pinto-Ochoa added.  “And knowledge is power.  So we want to make sure that the front line staff have that information first hand.”

With the Ebola concern in mind, the nurses union emphasizes the importance of planning.

“I think it’s a wake-up call for the entire nation, and all hospitals,” Pinto-Ochoa said.  “We’re calling on all hospitals across the nation to be prepared for what may come through their emergency room doors.”