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Concern About Ebola Readiness At Santa Fe Hospital

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Earlier this week, there was a brief Ebola scare at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe. A patient was isolated, and though itturned out to be a false alarm, hospital workers are questioning whether the hospital is ready to handle the disease.

Fonda Osborn is with the union representing health care workers in Santa Fe. She said they got many alarmed phone calls from members about the lack of training and preparation for Ebola cases.

"We need to make sure that they have the appropriate equipment," she said. "They need hands-on training. Just handing somebody a piece of paper showing how to put on a gown or take off a gown doesn’t do it. They’ll need very specific protocols for a lot of things."

Osborn said the health and safety of hospital workers in Santa Fe—including housekeepers, nurses, therapists, lab technicians—is the union’s concern.

She also represents the union in its contract negotiations with St. Vincent but says the Ebola-readiness concerns will play no part in those dealings, which are almost done.

Two nurses contracted the virus at the Dallas hospital that treated an Ebola patient last month. The CDC says that hospital dealt with infection control on the fly, and workers say protective gear was inadequate.  

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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