Nurses at Texas hospital: ‘There were no protocols’ about Ebola

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(CNN) — “The guidelines were constantly changing” and “there were no protocols” at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas as the hospital treated a patient with Ebola, the president of National Nurses United told reporters Tuesday.

Protective gear nurses wore at first left their necks exposed, union co-president Deborah Burger said, citing information she said came from nurses at the hospital.

Union officials declined to specify how many nurses they had spoken with. They said they would not identify the nurses or elaborate on how the nurses learned of the details they are alleging in order to protect them from possible retaliation. The nurses at the hospital are not members of a union, officials said.

In response to the allegations, a spokesman said patient and employee safety is the hospital’s top priority.

“We take compliance very seriously. We have numerous measures in place to provide a safe working environment, including mandatory annual training and a 24-7 hotline and other mechanisms that allow for anonymous reporting,” hospital spokesman Wendell Watson said. “Our nursing staff is committed to providing quality, compassionate (care), as we have always known, and as the world has seen firsthand in recent days. We will continue to review and respond to any concerns raised by our nurses and all employees.”

Here are some of the other allegations the nurses made, according to the union:

— On the day that Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted to the hospital, he was “left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area where other patients were present.” Up to seven other patients were present in that area, the nurses said, according to the union.

— A nursing supervisor faced resistance from hospital authorities when the supervisor demanded that Duncan be moved to an isolation unit, the nurses said, according to the union.

— After expressing concerns that their necks were exposed even as they wore protective gear, the nurses were told to wrap their necks with medical tape, the union says. “They were told to use medical tape and had to use four to five pieces of medical tape wound around their neck. The nurses have expressed a lot of concern about how difficult it is to remove the tape from their neck,” Burger said.

— “Nurses have substantial concern that these conditions may lead to infection of other nurses and patients,” Burger said.

— At one point during Duncan’s care, “there was no one to pick up hazardous waste as it piled to the ceiling.”

— “In the end the nurses strongly feel unsupported, unprepared, lied to and deserted,” Burger said.

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