I come from a medical family and have the utmost respect for nurses. My mother is a nurse. My step-mother is a nurse. My middle son is studying to become a nurse. They are the backbone of the American healthcare system which, it cannot be said enough, is the best in the world.
Unfortunately not everyone values the contributions nurses make to the healthcare profession ??? especially the big labor bosses that have used them as pawns in a cynical ploy to increase their political power and influence over the medical economy. As hard as it might be to believe they???ve tried to exploit Ebola???s arrival in the United States and the fears the media???s hysterical reporting of the situation has created as an opportunity for profit.
That???s right. National Nurses United has used the Ebola scare as an excuse to plan and to execute work stoppages, disseminate misinformation, and worry the public needlessly for their own gain ??? as part of an organizing drive to win more unions in more hospitals and increase their dues-paying membership.
Everyone agrees that the safety of America???s healthcare workers is the most important piece if the Ebola puzzle. The people we count on to care for us and cure us cannot do their jobs if they are not protected against infection. When nurses have expressed concern about the proscribed protocols people have listened, and new ones have been developed, and systems have been revised. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta have examined an revised their guidelines, allowing hospitals in and outside of the known infection zone to plan for an outbreak and safeguard the lives of the health care professionals who will occupy the positions on the front lines.
None of this apparently is good enough to the NNU, which is resorting to tactics straight out of Saul Alinsky to capitalize on the public???s concern solely for the benefit of the union as an organization regardless of any collateral damage they may case.
NNU Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro ??? who is not a nurse but is a former organizer for the Teamsters — has claimed that despite the ongoing effort to improve the medical protocols nurses are being asked ???to put themselves in harm???s way unprotected, unguarded.??? This is untrue as reflected in the CDC???s new guidelines, which are based on proven protocols requiring hospitals use either powered air purifying respirators that proved effective at Emory University or N95 respirators that proved effective at the University of Nebraska, hospitals that have both successfully treated Ebola patients. The choice of what style of personal protective equipment is up to the hospital, but there is no choice whether or not to acquire and use the equipment.
The NNU also claims the handling of Ebola in Texas demonstrated A steady erosion in care standards that increasingly put patients as well as nurses and other frontline health workers at risk.??? Evidence from The Joint Commission, the nonprofit organization that accredits health care institutions and programs in the U.S., says the opposite: positive patient care standards are improving in care facilities across the country.
DeMoro and her friends are using Ebola as an excuse for labor agitation regardless of the realities. In California, union nurses have been negotiating a new contract with Kaiser Permanente for months. Now they are using Ebola as a reason for a two-day strike and are demanding ???extra supplemental coverage, specifically for Ebola, if we were to contract Ebola while we???re at work.???
University of California San Francisco nursing school professor Joanne Spetz said it best when she described such lobbying as the NNU ???doing what any other group that???s looking to gain membership would do. Of course it???s opportunistic. Texas is a state that has virtually no union representation for registered nurses.???
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases??? Dr. Anthony Fauci calls the new CDC protocols ???much tighter than they were??? ??? and if anyone should be in a position to make that kind of judgment persuasively it???s Fauci.
???Those are protocols that actually worked very well historically in Africa. We find now that with the intensive care setting that we have given this country, they may not be optimal enough and that’s why CDC has changed them,??? Fauci said.
Hospitals have done what they can to insure that state of the art equipment is in place where it is needed. They have stepped up in the face of a developing crisis because they recognize the safety of their workforce is job No. 1 in the fight against the spread of infectious diseases. Nurses have the tools they need to be effective in the fight against Ebola while limiting their own risk of exposure no matter what the union bosses say. And why is anyone listening to them anyway when their propagandizing and agitation is so easily explained as a matter of self-interest rather than the selflessness most nurses demonstrate on call every day.
Peter Roff is a senior fellow at Frontiers of Freedom, an organization that promotes economic security and healthcare freedom. He appears regularly on the One America News Network.