There are calls for Alberta Health Services to do more to help ease the fears of nurses as the province prepares for Ebola.
Experts say the risk the deadly virus will show up here is low, but health-care workers are starting to deal with more suspected cases — like one recently in Edmonton.
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“There was a fair bit of fear and uneasiness with the lack of preparedness in terms of informing the staff,” said Jane Sustrik with the United Nurses of Alberta.
She says minimum protocols should be outlined to all staff and unions.
“I don’t think it’s happening enough. The staff are far too scared,” Sustrik said. “And finding out information — you know, for us the largest employer is Alberta Health Services and I think they’re spending so much time trying to control the information that’s getting out that it’s at the detriment of the providers.”
Sustrik would like AHS to provide more support to staff who are afraid, perhaps in the form of counselling.
Canada’s chief medical health officer met with his provincial counterparts Tuesday to discuss guidelines after a nurse contracted Ebola while caring for a dying patient in Dallas.
“It certainly does worry a number of health-care providers, including myself,” said Dr. Stephanie Smith, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta.
“I mean, we certainly want to make sure that health-care workers feel protected.”
Smith says during trial runs at her hospital, someone from infection control is always present while doctors and nurses put on and take off their protective gear.
She says it’s now clear the risk is so high that a buddy system will need to remain in place.
“If there was a confirmed Ebola case, then it wouldn’t just be until we got people trained,” she said. “It’s gonna have to be something that’s gonna be ongoing.”