In response to a recent survey of registered nurses in Washington, the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) is calling on hospitals to take urgent action on four key priority issues to ensure the safety of health care workers, patients and the public. WSNA is advocating for increased training of health care workers, adequate protection of health care workers, practice and drilling on care for a potential Ebola patient, and adoption and dissemination of CDC-recommended guidelines and protocols.
An alarming 86% of nurses surveyed did not feel prepared to manage a patient with Ebola. Only 28% of respondents reported that their facility did have a plan in place for a potential Ebola patient. Nearly 1,000 nurses participated in the survey, conducted from October 10th – 18th. Respondents included nurses from over 56 hospitals and numerous community settings including hospice, mental health, public health, school nurses and more.
“Now is the time to act. With the lives of health care workers and the public potentially at risk, this survey is an urgent call to action. Patients and the public rely on the skill and expertise of registered nurses every day, so we must make training and protecting our nurses and healthcare workers a top priority in this state. WSNA has developed four key recommendations to achieve this goal and we are now working to ensure that nurses and hospitals in Washington are ready,” said Judy Huntington, MN, RN, Executive Director of WSNA.
Based on the concerns expressed by the nurses in the survey, WSNA is calling for these immediate actions:
- Training – Provide training during work hours on facility’s Ebola plan, including proper patient screening and use of Ebola-specific personal protective equipment (PPE) & protocols.
- Protection – Ensure accessibility and availability of proper isolation room, supplies and staffing, including using the “buddy system” during donning and doffing PPE.
- Practice – Conduct practice drills of the entire health care team, including lab and environmental services, in the event a patient presents with a possible diagnosis of Ebola.
- Guidelines – Follow recommended best practices and CDC guidelines on Ebola protocol as they are updated.
“As the frontline staff and first line of defense, nurses must be part of any planning for readiness and response to Ebola. We stand ready to work with hospitals, state agencies, and others to learn, train and practice the skills and procedures necessary to provide excellent care and keep ourselves safe. The CDC and Washington State Department of Health are providing guidelines and protocols for hospitals, but we need to move quickly to ensure we’re ready before it becomes a life or death situation,” said Susan E. Jacobson, RN, CCRN, President of WSNA and an ICU nurse in Yakima.