Thousands of nurses were among the 15,000 healthcare professionals who watched an Ebola training event Oct. 21 at New York Citys Javits Center to learn more about protocols and protections, organizers said.
More than 5,000 gathered at the event and another 10,000 watched online, according to Chelsea-Lyn Rudder, a spokeswoman for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, which cosponsored the event with the Greater New York Hospital Association and Partnership for Quality Care.
Debbie Friedland, RN, a staff nurse at St. Johns Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, N.Y., was at the Javits Center gathering information to bring back to her staff.
At St. Johns, Friedland said they use the buddy system recommended by the CDC so that a trained observer watches a nurse putting on and taking off protective garments to make sure every step has been followed.
She said hearing more about CDC guidelines made her feel more comfortable that her staff is ready to safely provide care should a patient be diagnosed locally.
As long as were educated and have the appropriate equipment, well be capable of doing that here in New York, Friedland said.
Speakers included New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Mary Bassett, MD, MPH; New York State Department of Health Acting Commissioner Howard Zucker, MD, JD; and infection control experts from the CDC and Greater New York Hospital Association member facilities.
Donning and doffingMore than 5,000 nurses and healthcare professionals from the New York/New Jersey Metro region attended an Ebola preparedness event at the Javits Center in Manhattan.
One of the most interesting parts of the day-long session, Friedland said, was the demonstration of how to put on and take off protective garments and equipment by Barbara Smith, BSN, MPA, RN, an infection control expert at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, and Bryan Christensen, PhD, an epidemiologist with the CDCs domestic Ebola response team.
Smith said attendees who spoke with her afterward were most surprised by the need to use hand sanitizer to disinfect the outside of each glove layer.
This is an extra step that we have to ingrain in people if they have to care for an Ebola patient, she said. Nurses also have to break their habits of the randomness of removal.
The steps must be done in a certain order, according to the CDC or whatever checklist a hospital has adopted, Smith said. When healthcare professionals are training, it may take up to two hours for the instruction and donning and doffing of the items, Smith said. But with practice, she added, that time will come down.
Smith said to overcome the intimidation factor of speaking to so many people when the stakes of proper instruction were so high, she and Christensen focused only on each other.
It helped her to remember when nurses have the right information, the fear subsides, she said.
While nurses at Mount Sinai were willing to take care of patients if they were diagnosed with Ebola, Smith said, they wanted more protection and training, especially in light of two Dallas nurses who contracted the disease from a Liberian patient.
Once people saw the upgraded CDC recommendations for the personal protective equipment, the anxiety decrease was palpable, she said.
The event helped emphasize the need for collaboration in fighting the disease that as of Nov. 2 had killed more than 4,818 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
Rudder said the attendance and viewership surpassed 1199SEIUs expectations.
These are the people that are going toward any potential illness, Rudder said of the attendees. Theyre not walking away, which is a luxury people like myself have. We need to make sure they have all of the equipment and the knowledge they need to protect themselves, Rudder said.
George Gresham, president, 1199SEIU, stressed the need for collaboration and planning from frontline workers to reassure the public.
We are ready and willing to address any potential crisis and protect our communities and our nation, he said.
Marcia Frellick is a freelance writer.
VIEW EBOLA TRAINING VIDEOS online at www.GNYHA.org/ebolatraining.