Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurse Briana Aguirre appeared on the "Today" show this morning and claimed that her hospital had ignored basic safety and was ignorant of medical protocol when dealing with Ebola patients.
Aguirre cared for fellow nurse Nina Pham, who was infected with Ebola after treating Thomas Eric Duncan.
“I can no longer defend my hospital at all,” Aguirre told the "Today" show (videos below).
“I believe that they should’ve known that they were not handling this well, this Ebola crisis," added Aguirre. "They should’ve known that it was getting out of hand. They should’ve called in more help, even to make a public plea and say, ‘Help us. Help us get the supplies we need. Help us get the nurses the education and training they need, anyone. We’re not handling it well.’ I watched them violate basic principles of nursing care, of medical care.
"I would try anything and everything to refuse to go there to be treated," Aguirre explained. "I would feel at risk by going there. If I don’t actually have Ebola, I may contract it there."
Aguirre's claims echoed statements by the union National Nurses United yesterday, which slammed the hospital for its lack of preparation and instruction (Aguirre is not a union member).
“We never talked about Ebola and we probably should have,” Aguirre said. "[The hospital administration] gave us an optional seminar to go to. Just informational, not hands on. It wasn’t even suggested we go... We were never told what to look for.”
Yesterday, Dr. Daniel Varga, Texas Health Resources' chief clinical officer, called Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital's care of Ebola patients "very effective."
Aguirre said that her co-workers told her that Duncan was originally put in an area with “up to seven other patients."
“It was just a little chaotic scene," stated Aguirre. "Our infectious disease department was contacted to ask, what is our protocol. And their answer was, we don’t know. We’re going to have to call you back."
Aguirre said she was shocked by the insufficient protective uniform that the hospital gave her to care for her fellow nurse, Pham.
Aguirre was given gloves, gowns and a mask, but said there was a gap of several inches around her neck that exposed her skin.
“I’ll be honest, I threw a fit. I just couldn’t believe it,” Aguirre recalled. “In the second week of an Ebola crisis at my hospital, the only gear they were offering us at that time, and up until that time, is gear that is allowing our necks to be uncovered?”
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital told the "Today" show that the ”staff wore the appropriate personal protective equipment” at all times, but couldn't account for why two nurses have become infected with Ebola.
This week, CDC Director Thomas Frieden defended the skimpy protective outfit that Aguirre described during his interview with Fox News host Megan Kelly (video below).
“I looked at the [CDC's] website and it says you’re only supposed to one wear one pair of gloves, and it says you don’t have to cover your head and you don’t have to cover your feet. Now, wouldn’t you admit that that’s insufficient?” Kelly asked Frieden.
“No.” said Frieden. “We know how Ebola spreads. It spreads by direct contact and you know sometimes more isn’t better. You put on more layers, you put on more things, they’re harder to get on, they’re harder to get off. Yes really.”