CDC Confirms Ebola: How Should Hospitals Respond?

If you haven’t seen the news, the suspected Ebola case in the Dallas hospital was just confirmed. This is the first diagnosed US case, according to the CDC. Because of the flaws that were discovered in electronic hospital records systems, it allowed the patient to be turned away at first since it was unseen that the patient had been in West Africa. As well, there has been conflicting information from the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. Department of Transportation on how to handle the medical waste of Ebola patients.

This has raised many questions for U.S. hospitals on how best to manage the risks for exposure. Many hospital teams have taken initiatives by performing drills. Such as in the following photograph taken during a drill at the bio-containment unit in the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha

Nati Harnik/AP.

Nati Harnik/AP.

In California, Ebola is covered by the their unique Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Disease (ATD) standard. And as nurse leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure protection for ourselves and others. This checklist from the CDC/HHS/APSR is a good introduction to what should be included in a good infection control program and should be helpful for discussing with healthcare facilities their infection control plans to respond to suspect or known Ebola cases. Please download and distribute among your peers.

Dr. Lisa Brosseau, an eminent occupational health professor, has written an informative article discussing the confusion about how Ebola may spread in a healthcare facility and how workers should be protected. Please download and share with your colleagues.

While we continue to be bombarded with coverage on the development of this public health risk, take initiatives in protecting yourself and your coworkers in ensuring your workplace remains safe in all aspects. Strong, resilient communities can never be broken, and a positive attitude is always the best medicine.


Please contact SEIU’s Health & Safety Director, Mark Catlin at, for more information and with questions about worker health and safety issues around Ebola. Feel free to contact SEIU Nurse Alliance of California Executive Director, Ingela Dahlgren at, with any specific questions as well. 


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