As everyone knows, recent weeks have seen a dramatic increase in the media’s coverage of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). While most information coming out has been based on the facts, there has also been a great deal of speculation and misinformation that can spread rapidly.
Throughout the country, CUPE and its locals have received information from members concerned about safety, training, equipment or even basic communication from the various employers. That’s why CUPE’s National Health and Safety Branch this week released a fact sheet on Ebola that explains the basics about the disease: where it comes from, how it’s contracted and how it can be treated.
In B.C., provincial Health Minister Terry Lake issued a letter to health care workers late last week addressing concerns they had raised about the health care system’s preparedness for possible Ebola patients in B.C. Frontline health care providers have good reason to be concerned, given that two health care workers in the United States have been treated for the virus after caring for an Ebola patient in a Dallas hospital earlier this month. In particular, there have been questions about the coordination of information between infection control professionals and the myriad of public and private employers that operate within the health care system today.
We do know this: as long as appropriate precautions are taken, there is low risk of contracting Ebola in a country where the disease is present. Exposure can occur in areas where EVD is present when health care staff do not wear appropriate protective equipment such as masks, gowns and gloves. Regardless of EVD presence or risk in Canada, health care workers should still follow proper infection control protocols. If you are concerned about the level of training or preparedness in your worksite, you should contact your CUPE Occupational Health and Safety Committee representative or Steward.
A key element in Ebola preparedness is keeping up to date. The Public Health Agency of Canada website http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/diseases-conditions-maladies-affections/disease-maladie/ebola/index-eng.php provides detailed EVD information including causes, symptoms, risks, treatment and prevention. There are also links to other EVD resources.
For more information on Ebola, visit:
US Center for Disease Control
CUPE will continue to monitor and engage health employers to determine preparedness should a possible Ebola case show up here in B.C. We will also keep working with public and contracted health employers, along with public health officials and government, to ensure that members receive timely information and appropriate equipment and training to deal with infectious diseases like Ebola.
President, CUPE BC