Opinion

What We Know About Ebola 

The evolution of our knowledge about Ebola, based on the experiences of the brave nurses, doctors and other caregivers who have cared for patients, is leading to better protocols for all hospitals. The AHA welcomes the updated guidelines issued Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nurses and other caregivers, with their expertise, are an integral part of putting the best protocols into practice in order to keep our patients and the health care workforce safe. The AHA is urging hospitals to use the resources at their disposal to continue to train their nurses and staff and again drill again on the entire course of care from diagnosis to final waste disposal, using the same equipment on which they will rely in order to safeguard their staff, patients and communities.

Every hospital is going to do what is best for their patients, staff and communities. At a minimum, every hospital should be able to detect, isolate, and manage the initial care of a patient with suspected or confirmed Ebola while protecting both patients and staff, and to then transfer the patient as necessary.

The most reliable aspect of modern health care is change, and hospitals are learning more about Ebola every day. Information is the greatest weapon we have in fighting infectious diseases and responding to emergencies of all kinds. We embrace the responsibility to keep learning – and to act to put learning into practice.

Hospitals take very seriously their role in our nation’s readiness infrastructure. Every hour of every day, an army is at work to improve the health of their neighbors and treat those who do not enjoy good health. Right now, they are justifiably concerned about Ebola, a particularly challenging and deadly disease that demands vigilant adherence to exacting protocols that have and likely will continue to change. This is the first time our nation has dealt with Ebola, and we know there is much to learn from our colleagues’ experience. Hospitals have a track record of past successes in dealing with other infectious diseases like AIDS and SARS.

At the American Hospital Association, we are just as serious about Ebola. We pledge to continue to bring hospitals’ concerns to federal officials and to inform hospitals about all new guidance and protocols that become available. We’ll keep coordinating with state hospital associations, physician and professional nursing organizations and the many local, state and federal government organizations that bear responsibility for aspects of Ebola response.

 

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