Nurses' Union: Liberian Ebola Patient Was Not Isolated for Several Hours

Melanie Arter | October 15, 2014 | 12:29pm EDT
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Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. (AP Photo/Wilmot Chayee)

(CNSNews.com) - Jean Ross, co-president of National Nurses United - the nation’s largest nursing union – told C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” Wednesday that for “several hours” Liberian Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan was not isolated while “in the throws of raging Ebola infection” with vomiting and diarrhea.

“Just horrible things we heard about linen being piled practically up to the ceiling, the patient himself not being isolated for several hours. And this was a patient in the throws of raging Ebola infection, which means lots of bodily secretions – vomiting, diarrhea, etcetera,” Ross said.

Nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital were told not to talk to the media, according to Ross, so they reached out to their union.

“If you don’t have a union contract, people are afraid for their jobs. They had indeed been told, ‘You don’t talk to the media. You don’t talk to the press.’ They came to us. They said, ‘If you can listen to us and keep us anonymous, we can tell you exactly what was going on in those days before Thomas Duncan came and since,’” Ross said.

In a statement on its website, Texas Health Presbyterian said, “Patient and employee safety is our greatest priority and we take compliance very seriously.

“We have numerous measures in place to provide a safe working environment, including mandatory annual training and a 24-7 hotline and other mechanisms that allow for anonymous reporting. Our nursing staff is committed to providing quality, compassionate care, as we have always known, and as the world has seen firsthand in recent days,” the hospital said.

“We will continue to review and respond to any concerns raised by our nurses and all employees,” it added.

As of Oct. 10, 4,033 people have died from Ebola, and 8,400 total cases have been reported – 4,633 of which have been confirmed in the laboratory, according to the CDC.

Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have the bulk of the Ebola cases – a total of 8,376. Nigeria has 20 cases. Spain and Senegal have one each.

According to the Oct. 10 tally of Ebola cases on the CDC website, the U.S. had two cases. Texas Presbyterian nurse Nina Pham, who treated Duncan, was diagnosed with the virus over the weekend, which – including Duncan - brought the total number of Ebola cases to two. However, another health care worker – who provided care for Duncan – was diagnosed with the virus Wednesday morning. That brings the total up to three.

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