“I just stuck myself with a needle from a patient that has AIDS,” tearfully the nurse said who was my coworker. This was an excellent nurse I had known for quite some time. Accidents do happen and some with deadly consequences. This was over 20 years ago and medications had become available to treat our patients. They were still dying though from this horrible virus.
There were no words of comfort I could give her. I just listened. She explained to me the process she would go through via the hospital policy to check her HIV status over a period of several months. I was choked up for her at that point. There is no calmness in this situation. There is no escaping to safety.
Many of our ICU rooms overlooked the Pacific Ocean specifically the Puget Sound. Patients were too sick to see the view, but it was invaluable to me as their nurse. It was an escape I had that led to calmness over me. I felt a sense of peace evoked from the ocean. This particular day that peace was not found looking out that picturesque window. There was no reprieve from a lot of thoughts going on in my head.
Imagine 20 years later waking up to a new world with new challenges and new viruses. Nurses know this feeling, especially for those that put their own lives on the line for the patient everyday.
To me not much has changed in 20 years in the medical arena when it comes to common sense. Much of nursing is good ole common sense. Common sense says if something hurts, you stop doing it. So here comes the clincher that may sound radical to some folks, but to me makes complete common sense in regards to first line treatment for Ebola hitting America:
STOP THE FLIGHTS COMING OUT OF THE AFFECTED COUNTRIES.
This may only be for a month, but it could be enough time for the medical folks in our nation to put together a plan. I am waiting for the government to really take this serious. How many people including nurses will have to get sick and/or die before the government will realize something can be done to avoid this cluster muck? If you were that person like Mr. Duncan, would you tell the truth? He did not. God Bless his soul. It took him really getting sick on American soil to finally tell the truth and he still died.
To tell you my truth-I hope I wake up tomorrow and the government suspends those international flights because if you think a person flying to America will tell you that they have been exposed to Ebola-maybe you should think again.
NOTE TO MY READERS: My friend’s HIV results were negative after her accidental needle puncture.