Frontline Employees Get Intensive Ebola Preparation
KP, union coalition collaborate on training event
Standing on a stage in front of hundreds of his fellow health care workers at the largest Ebola educational session on the West Coast to date, registered nurse Peter Sidhu demonstrated how to use personal protective gear in the way that keeps both patients and workers safe.
Sidhu inspected his equipment first—two pairs of gloves, a gown, mask and face shield. Then Arjun Srinivasan, MD, the associate director for health care-associated infection prevention programs at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gave him detailed, step-by-step instructions in putting them on.
The Nov. 7 educational session in Los Angeles was hosted by Kaiser Permanente, the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions and other organizations that are coming together to help frontline caregivers learn about the newest CDC protocols and guidelines for handling Ebola patients. Hundreds attended in person, while thousands more nationwide watched a live telecast of the event.
I am here as an advocate for all members of the union coalition, because you are the ones who will have to deal with it if it shows up at your workplace.
Collaborating and problem solving
“KP, the coalition and the Labor Management Partnership are taking an active approach,” said Nerissa Dizon, RN, an intensive care nurse KP’s Panorama City Medical Center and a member of UNAC/UHCP. “Not only was it a good class, it was also a show of unity that reinforces that it is better to fight problems by collaborating, not by being adversarial.”
“Partnerships are based on the premise that we have to work together to solve problems and deliver the highest quality of care,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW, which represents a wide range of frontline workers at Kaiser Permanente, including medical assistants, EVS workers and technicians. “That is not a given in the world we live in. Cooperation works better than grandstanding. We are here today as problem solvers.”
The event recognized that all frontline workers need training about safely treating patients with Ebola or suspected of having Ebola. “It’s important that hospital workers like me were included in this event,” said Arletta Thomas, an SEIU-UHW member and EVS worker at the Downey Medical Center. “Sometimes people think that only nurses need to be prepared to deal with someone who might have Ebola, but it’s important for all hospital staff to be trained and ready for an emergency.”
Teamwork essential for safety
Strategic teamwork and partnerships—both at the front lines and among decision-makers in the unions, management and government agencies—emerged as the key to keeping workers and patients safe.
“Understanding your own role, and understanding each person’s role, is very important” in treating a patient who might have Ebola, said Maggie Robbins, director of occupational safety and health for the Coalition of KP Unions.
“I am here as an advocate for all members of the union coalition,” said Ken Deitz, RN, the president of UNAC/UHCP, “because you are the ones who will have to deal with it if it shows up at your workplace.”
“It is imperative that we, as a nation, help make sure our health care professionals are able to treat anyone infected with the Ebola virus in the safest way possible,” said Patrick Courneya, MD, a Kaiser Permanente executive vice president and chief medical officer. “That means having the right protective gear, and knowing how to use it. Today's educational session is one of the many steps we are taking to achieve that goal.”
Before heading to his shift at the intensive care unit at the Woodland Hills Medical Center, Sidhu demonstrated the painstaking steps for safely taking off the personal protective gear. “I am blessed to be given the opportunity to teach,” he said.