A Liberian Ebola patient was left in an open area of a Dallas emergency room for hours, and nurses treating him worked without proper protective gear and faced constantly changing protocols, according to a statement released by the nation’s largest nurses’ union. Among those nurses was Nina Pham, 26, who has been hospitalized since Friday after catching Ebola while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with the virus in the U.S.
“The guidelines were constantly changing” and “there were no protocols” at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas as the hospital treated a patient with Ebola, the president of National Nurses United told reporters Tuesday. Protective gear nurses wore at first left their necks exposed, union co-president Deborah Burger said, citing information she said came from nurses at the hospital. Union officials declined to specify how many nurses they had spoken with.
A national nurses union said during a hastily-scheduled press conference Tuesday evening that hospitals are dropping the ball on safety for nurses caring for Ebola patients. RoseAnn DeMoro, director of National Nurses United, which has been critical of hospitals’ response to the Ebola crisis, said safety protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not been followed by the Dallas hospital where Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, died last week. “Our nurses are not protected, they’re not prepared to handle Ebola or any other pandemics,” DeMoro said.