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Five Positive Impacts of the Ebola Crisis

Nurses Disasters Article   posted

Lynda Lampert, RN specializes in telemetry, med-surg, post op, ICU.

Ebola has been vilified and sensationalized in the news and with good cause: those who contract the disease are likely to die from the infection. Fortunately, Ebola is a disease that is rather easy to contain in a country with sophisticated hygiene and health care systems. This has not stopped some news outlets from calling it the next pandemic that will wipe out the world, though.

Five Positive Impacts of the Ebola Crisis
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Actually, some good has come out of the Ebola scare, and nurses can use this opportunity to educate the public about disease. It may never infect a lot of people in America, but it can lead to positive impacts that will affect the country for a long time.

Attention Brought to the State of Healthcare in Africa

Africa is a hotbed of infectious disease. AIDS has run rampant there for years, and most of the first world has ignored it. Now, Ebola is devastating a few small countries in West Africa, and they have the focus of the world on them. The people in these countries usually live in squalor with very little concern for the hygiene that is so common in more advanced countries.

If the news has done anything, it has made people aware of the problems in Africa, and this is a positive impact. Americans and other members of the global community should know the horrors of Africa and take steps to do something about them. People are dying and suffering. It isn't just about protecting our borders from disease, but about helping those who don't have the resources we have. If Ebola opens the eyes of the sleeping public to the health care problems of Africa, then perhaps those people didn't die in vain.

Opportunity to Educate Patients about Disease Transmission

Ebola is causing panic because the general public does not understand disease transmission. Fortunately, it is only communicated via bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva, urine, semen, and so on. If it was airborne, the panic would be more understandable because it would have the ability to transfer from one person to another very quickly. And we have experience with containing airborne diseases, such as TB and H1N1, that the general public may not know about.

This gives nurses and other health care providers the ability to teach the public about how diseases are transmitted. Doctors can go on CNN and spread the word about how bacteria and other infectious agents are spread. This will help to decrease panic and give the public an idea of how diseases really work. Even as a floor nurse, you can use this panic as a teaching point to illustrate to patients how important it is to maintain hygiene and prevent the spread of other infections.

An Increased Awareness Disease Prevention

Hand washing, covering your cough, and maintaining good disease hygiene are important points to know in preventing the spread of infection. Unfortunately, not enough people know about how to prevent it, and that leads to diseases, such as the flu, cold, and pneumonia, transmitting rather quickly through populations that live in close proximity.

The outbreak of Ebola may encourage patients to seek ways to protect themselves from germs, and this can help in the prevention of many other diseases. If more people wash their hands, then the transmission of disease would greatly decrease. Due to panic over Ebola, the public will be more interested in the steps to take in preventing disease, and this gives nurses the prime opportunity to teach. For those at risk of disease transmission, such as the very young and the elderly, this could help to prevent devastating diseases that could save lives.

Public Awareness of the Risks Healthcare Workers Endure

We've all heard the stories of the nurses quarantined for possible Ebola. Considering that nurses always use universal precautions, the risk of transmission is rather low, though possible. That said, though, the public doesn't realize what we go through as health care providers. It isn't only Ebola that we face, but TB, MRSA, C-Diff, and any number of other infectious diseases. Nurses are at risk, and no one seems to know or appreciate that.

With the craze over Ebola, however, the public can come to appreciate what we do and the risks we take for their health. Is it any wonder that nurses were at the center of the Ebola outbreak? We are literally on the front lines of infectious disease, and not many in the public realize that we put our health on the line. This is another education point about the selflessness of nurses and can possibly increase the appreciation of what we face every shift.

Proof of America's Ability to Contain a Potential Pandemic

Regardless of your feelings about the government, the reaction to Ebola was aggressive and effective. It didn't spread beyond a handful of people, and this is a great example of how the country is prepared for issues, such as pandemics. It can help the public feel more confident in the government's response should a more aggressive disease become a problem in the country.

Now, the government has dropped the ball on many occasions, but in this instance, the response was up to standards. The CDC and the agencies that dealt with this crisis kept the disease under wraps, and that should give both health care providers and the general public some measure of confidence in how the government reaction to infectious disease is controlled. It is peace of mind to realize that perhaps a pandemic would not so easily take hold in the US, and that can help to soothe panic in the future.

Freelance Medical Writer

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In California, nurses and other health care workers are now protected by new legislation that requires hospitals to provide high quality PPE and training, including PAPR's and a whole raft of other protections, for staff caring for suspected or confirmed ebola patients.

Edited by Susie2310

Lynda Lampert, RN

Specializes in telemetry, med-surg, post op, ICU.

That's great, Suzie! It's good to know that the legislators are looking out for health care workers. I think this is just another positive to come out of this scare. Even though I doubt Ebola will cause the apocalypse, it shows how we would respond if confronted with a disease that could.

brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care.

I'm glad to hear Amber Vinson received a new engagement ring free from Zales since they threw away all her possessions including her jewelry in their decontamination of her apartment. It makes no sense to me and I don't think it was necessary to throw away all the nurses possessions. You'd think there would be more sense coming out of the CDC. I'm surprised nothing is being said about why this was done and that it really wasn't necessary and they went way overboard!

Lynda Lampert, RN

Specializes in telemetry, med-surg, post op, ICU.

That's terrible. I didn't even know about that because I was trying to insulate myself from the crazy, sensationalist news. When Fox News and CNN don't have anything to talk about, they whip up the public into a frenzy, and that's the most enraging part of all of this. If people would have taken time to learn about Ebola, they would have found that it was unlikely to cause a pandemic. Instead, fear mongering won the day. I even talked to a well respected doctor who was "terrified" of Ebola. However, I still think some good came from it. It gives nurses the ability to teach and hopefully forestall this sort of overreaction in the future. I think it was shameful, but this article is my take on looking at this outside of the box a bit.

FLAlleycat

Specializes in L&D, Women's Health.

I'm glad to hear Amber Vinson received a new engagement ring free from Zales since they threw away all her possessions including her jewelry in their decontamination of her apartment. It makes no sense to me and I don't think it was necessary to throw away all the nurses possessions. You'd think there would be more sense coming out of the CDC. I'm surprised nothing is being said about why this was done and that it really wasn't necessary and they went way overboard!

I think the total destruction of all items of both nurses came from Texas Division of Emergency Management, which had assumed control from Dallas County and then put the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in charge of the decontamination, not CDC.

brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care.

I think the total destruction of all items of both nurses came from Texas Division of Emergency Management, which had assumed control from Dallas County and then put the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in charge of the decontamination, not CDC.

Thanks for sharing the article. This is the first one I've seen that explains what happened. It seems they were overzealous due to fear of the unknown and potentially high death rate 70-90% in some cases. I hope reason will prevail if a house ever needs to be decontaminated in the future.

OC_An Khe

Specializes in Critical Care,Recovery, ED.

Education education education is what's needed to overcome the irrational fear this engendered. Of course the people need to listen and be ready for that education.

OCNRN63, RN

Specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

​I want to know what they did with that engagement ring. How do you destroy a diamond? Gold can be melted down, but the rock? I guess I'm jaded, but it wouldn't surprise me if someone pocketed the ring.

It clearly demonstrated the lack of critical thinking skills within the profession and the inability of some to promote evidence based practices rather than reactionary fear based practices.

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