- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Nurses Association is calling on hospitals to provide the highest level of protective equipment available for any staff treating Ebola patients.

A resolution to equip hospitals with full-body hazardous material suits was received unanimously at the association’s annual meeting. The vote followed an informal survey that found only two out of 150 nurses felt like they’re adequately trained to treat Ebola patients.

“We go into the community, into the grocery stores,” said Linda Hamilton, president of the nurses’ union. “If we get sick, people are going to get it from us.”

Federal authorities currently recommend gowns, gloves, masks and face shields as acceptable gear to protect medical personnel against the deadly disease.

Some Minnesota hospitals are already taking preventative measures by offering more protective equipment, establishing isolation rooms for patients who exhibit Ebola symptoms and conducting drills to ensure preparedness, the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1DbOvbk ) reported. At least three hospitals in the state have reported suspected cases, but they turned out to be other illnesses, such as malaria.

“We’re ready today if it happens,” said Kasey Paulus, director for quality and patient safety at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park.

The Methodist ER has tested its ability to identify patients who are potentially infected with Ebola based on symptoms and recent travel history. The hospital’s drill also requires the at-risk patients to be moved into isolation so they can undergo further evaluation.

The next step is for Methodist to begin testing how its Ebola patients can be moved to intensive care for treatment, Paulus said.

Regions Hospital in St. Paul is providing staff with full body suits instead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended gowns.

“They’re hot, they’re sticky, they’re uncomfortable,” Hamilton said, “but at the same time they’re safe.”

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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