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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine