Missouri Nurses Association Statement on Ebola and Nurse Preparedness Information, Resources, and How You Can Help

Missouri EBOLA PreparednessMissouri Nurses Association Statement on Ebola and Nurse Preparedness

The Missouri Nurses Association (MONA) continues to monitor the global health crisis of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). We take an active role in addressing the safety needs of our nurses and their patients. As Ebola has spread to the United States, MONA has reached out to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services for guidance. MONA will continue to communicate with these agencies, as well as other nursing associations, the Missouri Hospital Association, and the Missouri State Medical Association as the situation progresses.

Ebola Preparedness Survey
“Nurses serve on the front lines of health care, and it is imperative that they and all health care workers be guaranteed safe working environments, including proper personal protective equipment (PPE), current training in safety protocols, and Ebola preparedness,” said MONA CEO Jill Kliethermes, MSN, RN, FNP-BC. “Nurses must feel safe and prepared when dealing with any potential Ebola cases.” To that end, MONA is asking nurses in Missouri to participate in our five-minute Ebola Preparedness Survey to gauge facilities’ levels of training, preparedness and availability of PPE. Your responses will help keep nurses, patients and the public safer by identifying any possible gaps in training and preparedness.

Nurse Safety
Recently, the first case of Ebola in the United States was diagnosed in a man who traveled from West Africa to Dallas, Texas. Sadly, this patient passed away on October 8, 2014. Subsequently, two nurses who were caring for this patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas have been diagnosed with Ebola. Officials at the hospital have since acknowledged that a lack of clarity, protocols, and guidance contributed to a critical lapse in safety for these nurses and health care workers.

MONA joins with the American Nurses Association (ANA) in urging the CDC to provide clear standards and guidelines that nurses and health care workers can follow to ensure their safety and the highest quality of care for patients. MONA and ANA urge the CDC to adopt PPE standards that have been demonstrated to provide effective protection for nurses and health care workers in the clinical setting when caring for Ebola patients, such as those used by Doctors Without Borders and Emory University. CDC officials plan to release revised PPE guidelines soon. MONA and the ANA will review these guidelines and provide additional feedback, if necessary.

While we unequivocally believe that nurses are obligated to care for patients in a nondiscriminatory manner, with respect for all individuals, we also recognize that there are limits to the risk of personal harm nurses can be expected to accept as an ethical duty. MONA urges nurses to take our Ebola Preparedness Survey and speak up if they feel their facilities are underprepared to treat any patient. Nurses should have the right to refuse an assignment if they do not feel adequately prepared or do not have the necessary equipment to care for Ebola patients.

MONA joins with the American Nurses Association in urging nurses to review infectious disease guidelines and checklists to ensure they understand Ebola, how it is transmitted, and what precautions are necessary to protect themselves, their patients, and the public.

A multitude of resources are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health care organizations:
CDC: Ebola – Information for Healthcare Workers and Settings
CDC Webinar: Preparing for Ebola: What US Hospitals Can Learn from Emory Healthcare and Nebraska Medical Center
ANA: Ebola Information
ANA: News Release on Ebola
Public Health Emergency (PHE) Webinar: Ebola Preparedness for the US Healthcare System
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH): Ebola Information
World Health Organization: Ebola: Protective Measures for Medical Staff

This current health crisis is of grave concern to MONA and a top priority for all of us, but we must remain calm. Through education, training, and preparedness we can manage EVD. MONA urges all nurses to avail themselves of informational resources and take our Ebola Preparedness Survey to help our state meet this challenge effectively and safely.