“There was no advanced preparedness on what to do with the patient. There was no protocol. There was no system. The nurses were asked to call the infectious disease department…” Thomas Eric Duncan was “left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area…subsequently, a nurse supervisor arrived and demanded that he be moved to an isolation unit, yet faced stiff resistance from other hospital authorities.”
That was the accusation of nurses that interacted with Eric Duncan before his death at the Texas Health Presbyterian, and they made this revelation in anger when one of their colleagues, Nina Pham, a 26-year old registered nurse contracted the Ebola disease after being part of a team that attended to Duncan.
This accusation gives an insight into what must have happened to Duncan when he was readmitted to the hospital the second time, and it also reveals how the hospital management must have handled his case to have allowed for the disease to spread to nurses and possibly to other patients in the hospital. And two major things the nurses’ accusations have shown are that: hospital nurses were ill-trained and ill-prepared to handle Ebola cases as shown in Duncan’s case, and that hospital authorities initially refused to isolate him and left him unattended for several hours alongside other patients.
This revelation came to light after National Nurses United, a Oakland group, conducted a conference call with reporters where nurses at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital spoke their minds to reporters on what actually transpired with Duncan and the newly-infected Nina Pham – without identifying themselves by name or being identifiable by voice. RoseAnn DeMoro, the executive director for National Nurses United disclosed the details of the interview with the nurses but would not say how many nurses responded to the interview, she only admitted that all of them directly attended to Duncan before and after his death at the hospital.
The revelation of the nurses that Duncan was “left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area” that had other patients, and “subsequently, a nurse supervisor arrived and demanded that he be moved to an isolation unit, yet faced stiff resistance from other hospital authorities” showed that the hospital was lax at handling Duncan’s case, and this is what must have made Nina Pham to contract the disease. They also allege that Duncan’s lab samples were shoddily handled, “without being specifically sealed and hand delivered. The result is that the entire tube system…was potentially contaminated,” and what more, “hospital officials allowed nurses who interacted with Mr. Duncan to then continue normal patient-care duties,” and this put others in danger of the virus.
But the authorities of the hospital have come out to debunk the accusations, saying “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. We will continue to review and respond to any concerns raised by our nurses and all employees.”