By Lauren Wanko
“Everyone in the hospital is talking about it,” said Dr. Meika Roberson.
They’re talking about Ebola, which is why CarePoint Health Hoboken University Medical Center just started mock Ebola drills for their health care providers. Everyone from the patient registration staffers to doctors are educated on how the deadly disease spreads and the proper protocol for putting on and removing personal protective gear.
“A lot of it we’re used to using it for sterility, when we do a procedure, but this time, it’s protecting ourselves,” Roberson said.
Health care workers first step into a head-to-toe suit.
“It’s always good if you have a partner. Make sure you haven’t ripped anything,” she said.
After it’s zipped up and the hood is on, next comes the mask.
“So pull this all the way down at the bottom. Completely cover his chin here,” the doctor said.
Two layers of gloves are applied.
“The gear needs to go underneath the glove so no splashes get in the inside,” she said.
“This is not something we do on a daily basis. Doing it properly requires repetition and not just at a time when dealing with a live patient, but prior to that,” said Dr. George Safran.
“So I can grasp whatever’s on the outside and try to pull off,” Safran said.
When it’s time to remove the protective gear, layers must be peeled off from the inside out, so there’s no contact with the outer contaminated layer starting with the first set of gloves.
It’s not an easy task.
“Because of the complexity of pulling on gear and off there is room for error, and that is the reason we’ve been training here,” said Safran.
“This is the inner glove, not the outer glove. This is the second layer so now his hands can go push down inside,” said Roberson.
The mask can’t be removed from the front either. It all ends up in a red biohazard trash bucket, but a health care worker needs a place to remove the contaminated gear.
If a suspected Ebola patient arrives here at the hospital, the engineering department will build a tent with a zipper on both sides right outside the patient’s isolation room. It’s a controlled space for the health care provider to remove their protective gear.
It’s one the additions hospital staffers decided they needed after today’s drill.
“We found out that we need equipment, new protective gear,” said Roberson.
Like protective shields for X-ray machines. But National Nurses United says the majority of nurses throughout the country aren’t getting the training or education they need.
“Eighty-seven percent of the nurses still have not had the training to care for an Ebola patient,” said Lisebeth Jacobs.
Jacobs says there are still a number of hospitals without supplies to meet a nurse’s daily needs like face shields and protective gloves.
“What we’re concerned about is the CDC guidelines are merely that. They’re not mandates,” Jacobs said.
National Nurses United is calling for hands-on training and education of protective gear among other things. As for CarePoint Health Hoboken, the hospital plans to run an Ebola drill weekly.