We can fear, or we can care: why we welcomed Ebola into our hospital

 

Share

A second American infected with the potentially deadly Ebola virus arrived at Emory University Hospital on Tuesday from Africa, following the first patient last weekend.

Both were greeted by a team of highly trained physicians and nurses, a specialised isolation unit, extensive media coverage, and a storm of public reaction. People responded viscerally, fearing that we risked spreading Ebola to the United States.

Those fears are unfounded and reflect a lack of knowledge about Ebola and our ability to safely manage and contain it. Emory University Hospital has a unit created specifically for these types of highly infectious patients and our staff are thoroughly trained in infection control procedures and protocols.

But beyond that, the public alarm overlooks the foundational mission of the US medical system. The purpose of any hospital is to care for the ill and advance knowledge about human health. At Emory, our education, research, dedication and focus on quality – essentially everything we do – is in preparation to handle these types of cases.

Further, Americans stand to benefit from what we learn by treating these patients. Ebola won’t become a threat to the general public from their presence in our facility, but the insight we gain by caring for them will prepare us to better treat emergent diseases that may confront us in the future.

We can also export our new knowledge to treat Ebola globally. This pathogen is part of our world, and if we want to eradicate these types of potentially fatal diseases before they reach our shores uncontrolled, we have to contribute to the global research effort. Today, diseases do not stay contained to one city, country or even continent.

Most importantly, we are caring for these patients because it is the right thing to do.

These Americans generously went to Africa on a humanitarian mission to help eradicate a disease that is especially deadly in countries without our healthcare infrastructure. They deserve the same selflessness from us.

To refuse to care for these professionals would raise enormous questions about the ethical foundation of our profession. They have a right to come home for their care when it can be done effectively and safely.

As healthcare professionals, this is what we have trained for. People often ask why we would choose to care for such high-risk patients. For many of us, that is why we chose this occupation – to care for people in need.

Every person involved in the treatment of these two patients volunteered for the assignment. At least two nurses cancelled vacations to be a part of this team. They derive satisfaction from knowing that, after years of preparing for this type of case, they are able to help, to comfort and to do it safely. The gratitude they receive from the patients’ families drives their efforts.

As human beings, we all hope that if we were in need of superior healthcare, our country and its top doctors would help us get better. We can either let our actions be guided by misunderstandings, fear and self-interest, or we can lead by knowledge, science and compassion. We can fear, or we can care. 

© Washington Post

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?