The world may be racing to find a cure for Ebola, but in the meantime, healthcare providers have found a cure for the panic that’s ensuing. Unfortunately, most of the U.S. isn’t paying any attention to it.
Due to the high levels of news coverage, we’re all aware of the recent outbreak in the United States, including the most public cases. Between the death of Thomas Duncan, the successful treatment of his two Dallas Presbyterian nurses, and the attention on doctors returning from philanthropic efforts in exposed areas, Ebola has the attention of the public eye.
If comforting a first-time mom-to-be is challenging, imagine having to reassure her that it’s safe to deliver her baby at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, the epicenter of the Ebola “outbreak” in the U.S.
That’s exactly what Capson Medical Director, Jay Staub, has been doing on behalf of his practice. “We’ve had a number of cancellations from our offices, for routine care. We’ve had patients who are pregnant and due to deliver soon call the office to ask about alternatives of other hospitals they might go to, to deliver.”
Staub is a lead physician for Health Central Women’s Care, an OB/GYN practice. It happens to be located in the Margo Perot building, part of the Dallas Presbyterian campus. Capson recently had the opportunity to interview him for his perspective.
During the conversation, he candidly mentioned that “fear and anxiety levels are so high that patients are afraid to keep their appointments. I have to explain that there is no need to worry.” When asked how he would reassure a patient, he responded, “If you’re not worried about going to the grocery store, you shouldn’t be worried about coming to see us. There is zero risk.”
In New York, Bellvue Hospital Medical Director, Dr. Nate Link, has reported that over a dozen of his employees have been discriminated against, regardless of whether or not they provided care to the Ebola-stricken Dr. Craig Spencer.
For example, just last month, an unnamed female employee was turned away at a dining establishment, and a male member of the staff lost his teaching position at another company.
A daycare provider told another woman that her child would not be allowed to attend day care. When a recently employed Bellvue nurse arrived for a hair appointment in Queens, she was refused service upon mentioning her place of work. The incident stung; the hair stylist had been cutting her hair for the past six years.
In an “abundance of precaution,” officials continue to discuss everything from the moral implications of euthanizing infected patients’ pets, to the debate over whether quarantining returning Ebola doctors who aren’t exhibiting symptoms is, in fact, unconstitutional.
When will the public feel safe again?
Despite medical evidence on Ebola transmission, fears based on misinformation in the community continue to drive discriminatory behavior towards medical professionals and nurses, inciting general panic amongst the public.
Ever since Duncan’s diagnosis, there continues to be a widespread uneasiness. The shocking examples above showcase the deeply rooted fear and uncertainly that lingers around the crisis.
With all the news coverage, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture: only ten people have been diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. Eight of those patients made a full recovery.
Staub, who also currently serves as President of the Southwestern Gynecologic Assembly, is optimistic that the future remains bright. “Things are better. Now that no one in Dallas has Ebola anymore, the hospital is close to having a normal schedule again. As education spreads, open, honest communication is easing the public’s fear.”
We were unprepared.
Ebola arrived. And the United States wasn’t entirely prepared for it. Hospital protocols and preparedness don’t deserve all the blame. According to Staub, “We [Dallas Presbyterian] were unlucky. The first undiagnosed patient in the U.S. walked right into our Emergency Room. The reality is that if he walked into 95% of hospitals in this country, nothing would have been different. We’re the teaching case, we’re teaching the CDC what needs to happen, and we’re the learning curve on how to prepare for these patients.”
The answer lies in education. With all the news coverage on Ebola, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Here are the facts:
- Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person who is showing symptoms of the virus. Direct contact means that these bodily fluids physically touched an individual’s nose, mouth, open cut, or abrasion.
- It can also be spread through droplets. The CDC states that “droplet spread” occurs when germs traveling inside droplets that are coughed or sneezed from a sick person enter the eyes, nose, or mouth of another individual.
- According to Dr. Rossi Hassad, a professor of epidemiology at Mercy College, these germ-filled droplets can remain active for up to 24 hours. If deposited in a moist, damp environment, they can remain active for a longer amount of time.
- The virus can easily be killed with household bleach.
- Some sources report that mosquitos can transmit Ebola, however, this is a myth.
Ending the Epidemic
It turns out, all we really need to assuage our fears and pause the panic is a dose of education. Physicians can do their part by actively educating their patients and equipping their coworkers with correct information.
What Capson is Doing to Help
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