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Registered nurses in various cities across the country will kick off a national week of action today demanding that President Obama and the U.S. Congress take immediate steps to guarantee that all hospitals and healthcare employers institute the highest Ebola protocols in their facilities to protect RNs, other healthcare workers, patients and the public. The actions are organized by National Nurses United (NNU), the largest U.S. organization of nurses with 185,000 members.
At the press conferences and other events nurses will invite everyone to join them in signing NNU's recently launched petition demanding the President and Congress act immediately to mandate "uniform, national standards and protocols that all hospitals must follow to safely protect patients, registered nurses, other front-line healthcare workers, and the public."
The entire petition may be read and signed here:
"No matter where we are working, we are all Dallas nurses now," says RN Jean Ross, co-president of National Nurses United. "We are asking everyone to sign our petition demanding the President, the Congress, and every hospital in the United States, ensure that optimal protections are implemented immediately. That is how we are going to contain Ebola and protect our patients."
The national week of action includes events in:
• St. Louis, Missouri – Monday, Oct. 20, 10 am Campus Gate, St. Louis University Hospital – S. Grand Blvd between Rutger St. and Vista Ave
• Sacramento, CA – Tuesday, Oct. 21, 11:30 am: Press Briefing with NNU/CNA leaders outside Governor’s Office, State Capitol
• Oakland, CA – Tuesday, Oct. 21, 1:30 pm: Nurses Rally, State Building, 1313 Clay St followed by 2 pm hearing.
• Bangor, Maine – Tuesday, Oct. 21, 10:30 am: Press Conference and rally, Key Plaza, Downtown Bangor
• Chicago – Tuesday, Oct. 21, 5 pm: Press Conference, Cook County Building, 118 N. Clark Street
• Fort Lauderdale, Florida- Friday, Oct. 24, 11:30 am: Press Availability-rally, City Center Building, 401 E. Las Olas Blvd.
NNU has been sounding the alarm on US hospitals' lack of preparation for Ebola for the past two months. Last week, NNU held a national tele-press conference, releasing a statement by RNs that work at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, which describes the hospital's inadequate protocols and protective equipment during the treatment of Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died Oct. 8, 2014.
Two of the nurses who cared for Duncan are now being treated for Ebola. Despite this, hospitals across the country have been slow to ramp up their preparedness for Ebola. In an online survey conducted by NNU and filled out by 3,000 nurses from over 780 facilities in 48 states and the District of Columbia, 84 percent indicated that their hospital has not provided adequate training on Ebola with the opportunity to interact, ask questions and practice putting on and taking off the proper protective equipment and in many cases has insufficient protective gear and supplies and no thorough plan in place for the treatment of Ebola patients.
It is the hospital industry's sluggish response to the crisis that prompted NNU's call on President Obama to mandate improved safety standards in U.S. health facilities.
“Sadly, the problems expressed by the heroic Texas Health Presbyterian RNs was predictable in our fragmented, uncoordinated private healthcare system, and it mirrors concerns we’ve heard from nurses across the U.S.,” says NNU executive director RoseAnn DeMoro. “Not one more patient, nurse, or healthcare worker should be put at risk due to a lack of healthcare facility preparedness,” DeMoro said in a letter to President Obama. “The United States should be setting the example on how to contain and eradicate the Ebola virus.”