Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Let's Stop Kidding Ourselves: Ebola Is A Political Issue As Well As A Crisis

"The smallest mistake can be fatal." Peter Piot, the guy who discovered Ebola in 1976

We have to stop kidding ourselves. Ebola is a political issue as well as a crisis. And how do I know that?  When Rahm Emanuel was Pres. Obama's WH Chief of Staff he said, "You never let a serious crisis go to waste." In short, he was talking about taking political advantage of any serious crisis confronting the administration. by using the crisis to its advantage.

With the news today that a second nurse has come down with Ebola, it shows  that the Obama administration is unable to deal with any crisis let alone a less serious crisis than Ebola. I pointed this very fact out in my previous post yesterday (if you have a moment, check it out).

I have some knowledge about medical care. I spent most of my career in either health care or behavioral health care. As an Air Force medic, I worked in the emergency room. In fact, as young guy, I worked as an orderly in the emergency room of a large urban hospital. I only bring this to your attention because of the latest reports regarding Mr. Duncan. Nurses reported that he was waiting in the ER before treatment.

That alone raises several questions: How many people was he in contact with in the ER waiting room? How many patients did the medical staff who treated Duncan initially go on to treat other patients? How many patients did the two nurses who have now come down with Ebola treat before they were placed in isolation? How many staff were they directly in contact with? How many people in the community did they come in contact?

As a point of perspective, a recent piece in the Washington Post reported that one doorknob can infect up to 60% of people working in a building within 2 hours. We also know that over 233 medical personnel have already died who treated Ebola patients---trained medical personnel who wore protective clothing.  We also know the NNU (National Nurses United) reported this week that 85% of the nurses they surveyed had not yet received training in Ebola protocol. 

And while efforts to reassure the public so panic does not set in is an appropriate approach, it's more important to communicate the truth. And that's what's been lacking with this current crisis. For example, in the last 4 weeks, we've been told:

  • Ebola is a difficult virus to catch.
  • Ebola is a fragile virus.
  • We've been following the established protocols to avoid transmission.
  • When a carries is not symptomatic, the virus cannot be transmitted.
  • The CDC said "any hospital" in the country can handle the virus.
  • The CDC told us they are well prepared to deal with Ebola.
Yet, with all of these facts, another nurse who cared for Mr. Duncan has come down with the virus. And to add to the seriousness of this news, she flew on a Frontier flight earlier this week. In addition to this current transmission, a nurse in Spain is currently fighting for her life. A UN worker died from Ebola in Germany after returning from Liberia. And there are other examples.

The fact is the administration's first failure was not to stop flights coming into this country on a temporary basis from the infected regions. That would have been a common sense approach. Instead, we now have two transmissions of Ebola in the United States for the first time in our history. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Atlantic Ocean was the perfect barrier to the virus spreading to America. And while I'm at it, how does spreading Ebola to America contain it? The single most important protocol this administration failed to follow: WAS TO KEEP EBOLA OUT OF THE U.S. 

Ebola is a political issue. The Obama administration is directly responsible for this viral WMD being transmitted in the United States. Hopefully, we won't see any other Americans infected. But even the CDC director doubts it. It might be the first time he's been right---unfortunately for all of us.