IMPORTANT UPDATES AT THE END OF COMMENTARY
By Marielena Montesino de Stuart
CDC… Centers for Disease
Today I took the time to watch the House subcommittee hearing on the United States response to the Ebola crisis.
Congressman Tim Murphy (Republican) Pennsylvania, Chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, made the following very important closing remarks during today’s hearing. His remarks mirror the profound concern felt by the American public over the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control) handling, or mishandling, of the Ebola cases in the U.S.
Congressman Tim Murphy’s letter to President Barack Obama is also included at the end of my commentary.
Transcript of Representative Tim Murphy’s closing remarks:
Note – My clarifications are provided inside [ ].
“Having listened to all of your testimony, a couple of things stand out for me.
One, I appreciate Dr. Daniel Varga’s [*] statement of honesty, that ‘we made mistakes.’ I didn’t hear that from any of you, and that troubles me. Because what has happened here is your protocol depends on everyone being honest 100 percent of the time.
*- [Dr. Varga is Chief Clinical Officer for the Texas company that includes Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas].
I’m not a medical expert, I study behavior, as a psychologist, and people are not honest 100 percent of the time. Secondly, it relies on tools for taking temperatures, which have its [sic] own reliability issues, 1 in 21 chance during those 21 days that it may register something, and a person can mask it with some analgesics, so that’s not helpful.
We also have to recognize, in human behavior, that protocols may not be followed, that’s why you have that fail-safe system of basically a buddy watching you put on your body garb, watching you take it off, making sure you use other things, and I think the example of how this failed was, there is an assumption in the travel, Dr. Frieden said the CDC granted her [*] travel, with the assumption that she use all the right protective gear, but we looked at this and you are not aware of what she wore and it does not appear she wore the proper one.
[*- It appears that Rep. Murphy is referring to Nurse Vinson's airplane trips. This travel situation is further explained in my commentary below].
So, to this extent, these are my recommendations, based on what occurred at this hearing:
I believe we need an immediate ban on commercial non-essential travel from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, until we have an accurate and thorough screening process and we treat this disease.
Number two, a mandatory quarantine order for any American who has treated an Ebola patient, or has traveled to and returned from the Ebola hot zone countries. This includes a prohibition of domestic travel, because of an assumption, without this assumption of what they wore was donned and removed properly [sic].
Number three, immediate training, and thorough training, for U.S. healthcare hospital workers to include a review of personal protective equipment used in the treatment of possible Ebola-infected patients, their wear and removal.
Number four, identify and designate specific medical centers equipped and trained to treat potential Ebola patients and expansion of those, as soon as possible.
Number five, identify gaps in statutory language that may prevent CDC and any other federal agency including BARDA [Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority], FDA and NIH from taking more aggressive and immediate action to protect public health from Ebola, including letting us know of any abilities now to transfer funds immediately, or any other action Congress needs to do to facilitate your needs.
Number six, accelerate directives on development and deployment of clinical trials for all promising Ebola vaccines, investigation drugs and diagnostic tests.
Number seven, acquisition of additional airplanes and vehicles capable of transporting American medical and military personnel who may have contracted Ebola in Africa, to return to the United States, beyond the current capacity of two.
Number eight: additional contact, tracing and testing resources for public health agencies.
Number nine, to provide information to Congress regarding any resources needed to assist health intervention, aggressive health intervention in Africa, so that we can stop Ebola there.”
So far, Ebola in the United States is following the pattern in Africa, of one person passing the disease to two others.
Two nurses from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, have contracted Ebola– after being involved in the care of Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who entered the United States after being exposed to Ebola, in Liberia.
As I write this commentary, the CDC is trying to track down 132 passengers that were on Frontier Airlines Flight 1143– which flew on Monday, October 13 from Cleveland to Dallas-Fort Worth. The CDC is trying to determine if the passengers were exposed to Ebola, by Nurse Vinson, who traveled on that flight.
It has been reported that the Frontier Airlines jet where Nurse Vinson traveled from Cleveland to Dallas-Fort Worth made five more flights before Frontier Airlines received a notification from the CDC about the Ebola patient, on Tuesday night, at which time the jet was grounded.
In addition, the Frontier Airlines jet that Amber Vinson flew from Dallas-Fort Worth to Cleveland last Friday, October 10 (Flight 1142) may have also flown several more times after Vinson was on board.
It appears that Nurse Vinson flew with the permission of the CDC.
Nurse Pham has been transferred to the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland.
Nurse Vinson has been transferred to Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Today’s hearings exposed the weaknesses of our public health monitoring agencies, in a time of crisis– and has left us with the impression that the CDC, which is under the direction of Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, may have been more concerned with trying to calm the public’s fear of this violent and deadly disease– instead of telling the truth about the omissions and mistakes that have occurred.
Let’s hope that Representative Murphy’s recommendations are implemented, without delay.
I am praying for Nurse Nina Pham and Nurse Amber Vinson, who are courageous warriors in the front lines of critical care.
I am also praying for the members of the United States Armed Forces who have been sent to ground zero of this epidemic in Africa, in order to build hospitals and establish infrastructure needed to combat this deadly disease. May God protect them and guide them in their work.
Someone has to say the truth… (please share it).
Copyright © Marielena Montesino de Stuart. All rights reserved.
UPDATE, October 17, 2014: More information is coming out about the behind-the-scenes situation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, where it has been reported that critical care nurses lacked the proper protective garments/equipment and training to deal with an Ebola-stricken patient.
Americans are increasingly concerned about what they could face at smaller community and regional hospitals– given what has happened at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, which is a prominent acute-care facility. The Texas hospital is fighting back by saying that CDC guidelines were followed.
It is interesting to note that during the last few hours the CDC has issued new Ebola protection protocol for hospitals.
The general impression is that the problems at the Texas hospital are a combination of unfamiliarity with Ebola protocols– and/or unclear or insufficient guidelines from the CDC. This was reflected in the experience that Daily Mail senior reporter Laura Collins had at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, when she fell ill after interviewing family members who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan.
News services are also reporting that now there is a cruise liner with a passenger isolated on board, who handled lab specimens at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, for Ebola-stricken Thomas Eric Duncan, who died at that hospital. The U.S. Government asked Belize and Mexico to allow the passenger in question to disembark from the cruise liner– but both countries refused to allow the passenger to set foot on land.
Question: who in the U.S. Government had the brilliant idea to attempt to introduce a potential Ebola patient into countries where, if Ebola begins to spread, would be catastrophic to the Western Hemisphere? These countries are not equipped to handle this contagious disease. Let’s face it, if we are having this chaos in the United States– imagine if this happened in Central America or Mexico!
This is yet another example of why the public is so mistrusting of how the U.S. government is handling this crisis.
UPDATE – October, 18, 2014: President Obama has appointed Ron Klain as Ebola Czar. As such, Obama has neutralized the head of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, as the spokesperson regarding this deadly disease.
And who is Ron Klain? News services describe him as a political hack for the Democrats. Klain is not a medical doctor and does not come from the public health sector. This does not help calm the apprehension felt by the American people, regarding the way in which the U.S. government has mishandled the Ebola crisis, by refusing to stop flights from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, as recommended by Rep. Tim Murphy, Chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
Appointing Klain as Ebola Czar is a risky move by President Obama– involving a disease with catastrophic consequences for humanity.
The WHO Question: And who exactly comprises the Emergency Committee of International Experts at the WHO (World Health Organization)? As far as I know, WHO’s spokesman, Gregory Hartl, has not provided the names of the committee members. This is an extremely important question, when addressing a catastrophic epidemic, such as Ebola. If you are a credentialed public health official, in the U.S. or Europe, and you know who they are, drop me a line below!
The WHO was slow to respond to the Ebola outbreak in Africa– which exposes the lack of cohesiveness between realistic assessment of infectious disease control and the bureaucracy behind United Nations agencies, such as the WHO.
The WHO has admitted that it underestimated the magnitude of the Ebola crisis. Now it is getting the help of, guess who?… the United States government!
Gosh… could it be that having a Cuban Communist in charge of its decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, could be affecting the WHO’s ability to make decisions? For the love of God! How can a public health official from a brutal Communist dictatorship– where only the government elite and foreigners with money have access to clean hospitals– be expected to preside over public health decisions for the world ?!?!
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is putting a rapid-response team that will be on stand-by to assist whenever an Ebola case is diagnosed in the United States.
So, here is the who, how and where of this crisis:
WHO can Americans trust if they suspect they have been exposed to Ebola, such as the passengers of the ‘S.S. Ebola‘ or the two Frontier Airlines flights? Do they trust Obama’s new Ebola Czar, Ron Klain? Their local hospital? The Pentagon? Who is really in charge?
HOW is this epidemic going to be brought under control, given its violent expansion in West Africa?
WHERE can Americans feel safe– considering that the U.S. government refuses to establish travel bans, like other nations have done already.
UPDATE – October 20, 2014: CDC issues new guidelines. But are these voluntary guidelines– or are they being legally enforced?
Important and compelling testimony by Nurse Briana Aguirre about her experience working at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas:
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I WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS REGARDING THIS POST:
Ebola, BARDA (Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority), CDC, Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Tom Frieden, NIH, FDA, Marielena Montesino de Stuart, Congressman Tim Murphy, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.
Copyright © Marielena Montesino de Stuart. All rights reserved.