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Alberta front-line health workers raising fears over training to treat potential Ebola cases: UNA
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Tuesday, October 14, 2014 5:50PM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 14, 2014 7:19PM MDT
The union representing nurses in Alberta said a number of nurses are worried they won’t know what to do if they have to treat a patient with Ebola.
“From many of the nurses that I’ve spoken to, they don’t feel like they’re at the proper level, they feel like they need more education and support to be able to look after these patients,” Jane Sustrik with the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) said.
Sustrik looks at a recent Ebola scare in Edmonton – where a patient was put in isolation as a precaution due to a potentially contagious illness.
After tests, it was determined the patient did not have Ebola – but the UNA said healthcare staff were not given correct information for protecting themselves.
“The nurses were not even told they were required to wear a N95 mask, that a regular mask would do,” Sustrik said. “We know in the Ebola treatment that we’re required to have an N95 mask.”
Sustrik said the nurses have been trained in gowning and how to deal with infectious diseases in general, but the UNA is calling for more training, and specific training for dealing with Ebola.
“I’m not sure that every nurse has that level of comfort, or has had that training,”Sustrik said. “I think there’s always going to be a sense of fear.”
Much of the fear comes in the wake of news relating to healthcare workers contracting Ebola; Nina Pham, a nurse in Dallas, Texas, has tested positive for the virus – she was treating Ebola patient Thomas Duncan who was infected with the disease.
Duncan recently died, but officials say Pham is in stable condition after receiving a blood transfusion from Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantley.
In Canada, there have been no confirmed cases of Ebola – one Canadian is in quarantine in hospital in Belleville, Ontario.
That patient returned from Sierra Leone, and is being tested for Ebola. Those results had not yet been released late Tuesday afternoon.
Vickie Kaminski, President and CEO of Alberta Health Services said she has heard the concerns from workers and said more training would be made available.
“We want to keep our staff safe, that’s an absolute priority for us,” Kaminski said. “If they need more training, we will provide it.”
Kaminski said training “has started immediately.”
CTV News has obtained information from an internal meeting at AHS – it says if healthcare workers refuse to treat a patient with Ebola, they could face disciplinary action, a rule Sustrik doesn’t agree with.
“I think if a nurse had a valid reason that they didn’t feel they had the skills and knowledge to look after the patient, and identified that to the employer, that might be a reason for not being disciplined,” Sustrik said.
With files from Veronica Jubinville