A Nursing Student’s Perspective

Nisheeka Simmons, Staff Writer

It has been a few weeks now since the Ebola crisis has hit the United States. I have heard many views on the situation, not all of which have been from an educated standpoint. While some extremists think we should euthanize and cremate all who have come into contact with the illness, others think that it is a conspiracy cooked up by the government to subdue citizens into mindless servility. What used to be a horrible illness that people get “over there” has hit us where it hurts, and what’s disconcerting is that we have little idea of what to do.

If you have been keeping up with the news, or just hanging around the Lee Nursing Building, you may have heard of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) giving the okay for a nurse who had contact with an Ebola patient to fly on a commercial airline after presenting with a slight fever. She was being tested for the illness, but she did not receive the results of that test before boarding the plane. She tested positive. How is it that our foremost officials on illness have completely missed the mark? It is them that we turn to for guidance in situations like these but when they give bad information, how can we trust them?

Unfortunately, it gets much deeper than that. Medical professionals are looking to the CDC for instruction on how to successfully treat and prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in the U.S. Though they are a little less clueless, they are not completely prepared to handle the numerous Ebola patients that a widespread outbreak would produce. The sad truth is that there are only about five hospitals that are fully prepared to handle Ebola patients. The sadder truth is that altogether, those hospitals can only accommodate approximately 20 infected individuals.

Personally, I believe that it is only realistic to see Ebola as clear and present danger. That being said, I also do not see this as a reason to hide in an RV and live off of potted meat until everything blows over. Early detection and early competent care are key in any disease process, and this one is no different. This is where educating our public, as well as our healthcare workers, comes in.

As a nursing student, I have had to think long and hard about what my actions would look like if an Ebola patient was assigned to me. Would I be able to provide quality care without contaminating myself and without passing judgment on the infected person? I hope that the answer to that question would be yes. I believe that all patients deserve to be treated to the best ability of their healthcare provider, but I cannot guarantee that my future self would be willing to put herself and her family at risk. Nurses are among those on the frontline of this crisis, and one day I will join them. I can only continue my education and pray that I will be prepared when that day comes.