Don't rush. Take your time. Be careful and deliberate.
Federal officials repeated that guidance again and again last week as they reviewed their new, more-stringent Ebola-protection protocols before an audience of thousands of healthcare workers in New York City. The three-hour education session, organized by the Greater New York Hospital Association and 1199 SEIU, a healthcare workers' union, included a step-by-step demonstration of how to don and remove the many layers of personal protective equipment (PPE) now recommended for Ebola care. It was sobering to watch.
“When we use equipment we're not really familiar with, it takes time and practice,” said Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, an associate director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Bryan Christensen, a CDC epidemiologist, and Barbara Smith, a nurse at Mount Sinai Health System, demonstrated the proper way to perform the intricate PPE process. Christensen served as the trained observer all hospitals should have overseeing each step of the process, while Smith played the part of the treating clinician and Srinivasan narrated.
Srinivasan said hospitals need to designate two roomy areas for putting on and removing protective gear. “These areas need to be carefully thought out and supplies need to be readily available,” he said. Hospitals should limit the number of people who will come in contact with Ebola patients, and focus on intensively training those designated workers.