Blame is the act of holding responsible and making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible. Over the past five-and-a-half years Republicans have religiously blamed every and anything negative that occurred in this country over the past two decades on the African American man in the Oval Office. The latest Republican blame-fest is centered on the Ebola virus, and as is typically the case, the real culprits are not being held responsible for their morally and socially irresponsible actions.
Republicans and some Democrats are assailing the White House, the Centers for Disease Control, and the National Institutes of Health for the possible spread of the virus in America. Some Republicans have demanded travel restrictions into America from West Africa where the virus originated even though there are no direct flights from West Africa to America. Texas Ted (Cruz) insists that the federal government is not serious “about protecting the American public,” and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) director Tom Frieden was criticized by Republicans during a congressional hearing on the virus. However, there has been little criticism of the Texas hospital that is likely as responsible as congressional Republicans for the spread of the virus.
Although Frieden did not specifically address the direct criticism of the CDC’s handling of the case in Texas, he did note that “There is a lot of understandable concern about the cases in Dallas,” and that “There are no shortcuts in the control of Ebola and it is not easy to control it. To protect the United States, we have to stop it at the source” alluding to why the virus made it into this country in the first place, and why it may have spread outside the Dallas area.
There has not been much mainstream media coverage of why the virus was not “stopped in its tracks” in West Africa or why the NIH and CDC budgets for infectious disease research have been slashed over the past ten years. NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins did say the effect of budget cuts on Ebola research is greatly responsible for the virus’s spread out of Africa. He said in an interview less than a week ago that, “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”
As reported here, congressional Democrats are demanding that Republicans hold hearings and investigate why the CDC and NIH did not have appropriate funding levels necessary to combat the Ebola virus, although it is unlikely they will investigate their own dangerous austerity policies. But they cannot deny they have cut billions-of-dollars from the CDC and NIH for research into infectious disease preparedness at all levels of government. The cuts go back ten years, as NIH director Friedman noted, with particular funding shortfalls as a result of the Republicans’ precious sequester they were duly warned was a dangerously indiscriminate threat to Americans.
There has been very little criticism of the Texas hospital that is inherently culpable for the initial spread of the virus in America, and now nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital have released a damning statement to National Nurses United revealing the hospital’s part in spreading the virus. The RNs say they feel a duty to air their concerns that are shared by many hospital employees about the protocols, or lack thereof, and frequently changing policies that contributed to the virus’s spread.
According to the nurses, when Thomas Eric Duncan arrived at the hospital the first time he was just sent back home despite informing them he had travelled from Africa. On returning again by ambulance Duncan and family members informed the hospital he may have Ebola and instead of being rushed into isolation, he was left, for several hours, in an area where other patients were present. The nurses said there were no infectious disease protocols or information on what personal protective equipment should be worn and there had been no previous training. Shockingly, after a nursing supervisor arrived and demanded Duncan be immediately moved into an isolation unit, hospital authorities resisted
To make matters worse, when lab specimens from Duncan were taken, instead of following standard “infectious disease” protocol and properly sealing and hand delivered for testing, they were sent through the hospital tube system without being specially sealed. The result is the entire hospital tube system through which all laboratory specimens are transported was contaminated with Mr. Duncan’s Ebola virus. The nurses said there was no advanced preparedness on how to deal with the patient, there was no protocol, and there was no advanced system in place. When the nurses did call the hospital’s Infectious Disease Department for special procedures and safety protocols, they were informed the hospital did not have any clear policies to offer.
The hospital did say that nurses have to adhere to ever-changing guidelines, but did not say why there was confusion to begin with, but when nurses asked hospital officials which set of guidelines they were supposed to follow, the official message to the nurses was “it’s up to you.” It is stunning. In the face of such a dangerous and virulent infectious disease, and the threat to the entire hospital staff and patients, it is up to the hospital, and not the nurses or staff, to be setting policy and safety protocols. That includes the hospital’s responsibility to optimally train the nurses in how to correctly deal with Ebola, don protective clothing and masks, as well as dispose of waste.
This is one case where there is plenty of blame to go around, and yet it is being reserved for the Obama Administration, the CDC, and the NIH and not where it duly belongs; Republican cuts to infectious disease research and prevention and the hospital. There is no excuse for the hospital not isolating the Ebola patient immediately upon learning he had recently arrived from Africa, particularly after informing the hospital he likely was infected with Ebola. It cannot be reiterated enough that if the NIH infectious disease prevention and preparedness had been properly funded, if the virus had not been stopped in Africa, an FDA-tested and approved vaccine would be available to stop the virus in its tracks in Texas
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.