“The document is 20 some pages long and growing,” said Chief Nursing Officer Carol Robinson as she describes UC Davis Medical Center’s plan to keep its staff safe. Her facility is one of five designated by the state as treatment centers for any confirmed Ebola patients in California.
Monday FOX40 was again denied access to the isolation area set aside for such patients, but administrators say they might reveal it some time this week.
“We’ve probably changed our policies 16 times in the last three weeks as we learn new things. Give you an example for when you put on the protective gear, if you have shoes that are clogs when you go to take it off, you can actually be exposed because it’s difficult to get your shoe out of the gear,” said Robinson.
A re-evaluation of footwear – one response to a devastating virus that’s created a crisis of faith in part of the American medical system.
Nurses in California and across the country have complained about a lack of training for gearing up to and carrying out this kind of treatment.
At UCD Med Center, at least 165 people have been in repeated Ebola drills so the protocols become second nature for staff.
“Yes we are. I think hospitals are struggling with the changing requirements,” said Robinson.
That struggle prompting the California Nurses Association to speak out about what members say are inadequate preparations.
Union press conferences are set for Tuesday at UC San Francisco and UC San Diego, and Wednesday at UCLA.
Union leaders haven’t announced any action at UCD Med Center, but by phone told FOX40 that that hospital isn’t ready either.
“I would say that’s not true,” said Robinson, who met with union members about Ebola preparedness three days ago and may again before the end of the week.
While med center administrators are confident about receiving an Ebola case, they also say if a nurse was to become exposed they could count on the highest quality care – not the kind of inhumane treatment a quarantined Kaci Hickox complained violated her rights in New Jersey.
Though asymptomatic, she was confined in a tent outside of a hospital without a flushing toilet, reading material or contact with her lawyer.
UCD’s chief nursing officer says what happened with Hickox was wrong, and her hospital’s approach would be very different.
“We’re going to treat them as a hero and we’re going to treat them very well. We’re not going to let them suffer in any way,” she said.