Ohio nurses say hospitals unprepared for Ebola, health officials - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Ohio nurses say hospitals unprepared for Ebola, health officials take action

The Ohio Nurses Association in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Wayne Cross) The Ohio Nurses Association in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Wayne Cross)
COLUMBUS, OH (FOX19) - Local hospitals are holding Ebola training and practice drills this week after an Ohio Nurses Association (ONA) survey found health care workers said they are unprepared if the virus hits their area.

The organization posted the survey to their Facebook page, asking questions such as, "Have you had Ebola-specific training?", "How many isolation rooms are available at your facility?" and "Do you know your facility's plan to communicate with staff in the event of suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola in the facility?"

Over 500 Ohio health care workers responded within 24 hours, saying they did not think they or their facility was ready, expressing concern about the need to conduct drills; getting updated, reliable information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and figuring out what services, resources and supplies are available.

"If a professional feels like there's a gap in their knowledge or their skill, we have a responsibility to not only recognize that but then seek that information to get us up to that level," said Lori Choyanak, CEO of the ONA.

And they did, telling Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) about the health care workers concerns, hoping for state assistance.

"I was able to provide him some very concrete information that we had gathered from the nurses through the survey," said Choyanak.

Now the Ohio Department of Health (ODOH) has urged Ohio hospitals to hold Ebola training and practice drills over the next two days.

The nurses' safety concerns are real. Two Dallas, Texas-area nurses have been infected with the virus after caring for a patient who was infected. One of those nurses, Amber Vinson, was visiting the Cleveland and Akron areas when she began to show symptoms of the virus. Several people in that area have been quarantined after being exposed, leaving Ohio health care workers concerned whether they are prepared if the virus enters their facility.

"Nurses are the front line caregivers," Choyanak said. "We're leaders in many different areas of government and politics and boards, and it's going to take the nurses' voice to make sure that our future goes in a positive direction and addresses the health care issues in a very proactive way."

The ONA has 10,000 members, and says there are over 180,000 registered nurses in Ohio.

Related content: Family of nurse diagnosed with Ebola releases statement

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