JANUARY 2015 ;e Costco Connection 25
Opinions expressed are those of
the individuals or organizations
represented and are presented
to foster discussion. Costco and
The Costco Connection take no
position on any Debate topic.
Should airlines ban
Percentage reflects votes
received by December 15, 2014.
Results may reflect Debate being
picked up by blogs.
Dr. Amesh Adalja is a member the Public Health Committee,
Infectious Diseases Society of America ( idsociety.org).
Jean Ross is an acute-care nurse and co-president of National Nurses
United ( nationalnursesunited.org).
AS A REGISTERED
nurse, I have taken care
of patients with infectious
from tuberculosis and
HIV to hepatitis and
H1N1 [swine flu]. Now
there is Ebola, a virus with
a frighteningly high mortality rate and no cure.
The exposure of nurses and others to the
virus in a Dallas hospital last year illustrates
the clear and present danger to the front-line
caregivers and ultimately to the public that this
Our nation’s response to Ebola exposes the
broader problem: the reality of a fragmented,
uncoordinated private health-care system that
puts profit margins ahead of public and care-giver safety, including access to protective
Amber Vinson, one of the nurses who
contracted Ebola while treating patient
Thomas Eric Duncan, is a case in point. She
received little training from her hospital, and
the first time she put on the personal protective equipment, which left her neck exposed,
was when she was heading in to take care of
Sadly, Dallas is not unique. According to an
overwhelming majority of nurses surveyed by
National Nurses United at facilities across the
United States, many hospitals are unprepared:
Eighty-four percent of nurses say they haven’t
been adequately trained.
While other countries—notably Canada,
which took action after its vulnerabilities were
exposed by the 2003 SARS (severe acute respi-
ratory syndrome) epidemic—have empowered
their public health agencies to coordinate local,
provincial and federal detection and response
efforts for pandemics, the U.S. cut funding.
Funding for public health preparedness and
response activities was $1 billion less in fiscal
2013 than in 2002.
We look to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) for guidance, but the
CDC, whose budget was cut by 20 percent in
recent years, is not a regulatory agency. It has no
authority to compel hospitals to comply with
Congress and the White House must
mandate that all hospitals meet optimal, uni-
form, national standards of equipment, such
as hazmat suits, and training in order to
safely protect patients, health-care workers
and the public.
We all count on nurses to be there for us
when we’re at our sickest and most vulnerable.
It’s everyone’s problem if nurses are not pro-
THE UNITED STATES,
missteps that occurred
with the Ebola patient in
Dallas, is well prepared
for contagious disease
A big thrust of preparedness came in more recent years and was
prompted by two events: the anthrax attacks in
2001 and the threat of a new influenza pandemic. The anthrax attacks, in which 22 people
were deliberately infected, exposed vulnerabilities and prompted a renewed interest in preparedness. Public health emergency preparedness and hospital preparedness were significantly augmented. Additionally, research into
certain pathogens, which heretofore had
attracted little to no interest, was spurred.
Cities began to prepare to mass-dispense
medications and vaccines should the need arise.
The Strategic National Stockpile, which warehouses essential medications and vaccines, was
developed, and a whole new branch of the
Department of Health and Human Services, led
by the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and
Response, was created. In the name of bio-terrorism preparedness, the nation became
more prepared for all hazards.
Soon after the anthrax attacks, avian influenza cases accruing in Asia highlighted the perpetual threat of pandemic influenza. Many felt
this threat was the most likely to occur. Influenza
preparedness is multifaceted and requires coordination of many elements, such as vaccine production, surveillance, hospital preparedness
and antiviral-medication stockpiling.
Preparedness for influenza even stretched
to chicken farms—a vital asset, as most of our
influenza vaccines are chicken-egg-based—to
ensure robust year-round flock numbers. New
domestic vaccine plants to supplant chicken-egg-based vaccines also were constructed.
It can’t be denied that there are shortcomings in our preparedness. Many local health
departments do not have adequate resources to
devote to infectious diseases, as their missions
have morphed to handle myriad noninfectious
disease problems that divert scarce resources
from what was once their primary purpose.
The threat of infectious diseases will not
abate, and preparedness at all levels remains
paramount. The current Ebola outbreak underscores this fact and, though stressing our system, will ultimately show just how inhospitable
the U.S. is to this virus, given the foresight
reflected in our prior preparations coupled with
the resiliency of our nation. C
Like us on
Vote on an
Like us on Facebook,
click “More,” then