Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chris Christie says quarantines won’t hurt the Ebola fight in West Africa. Doctors disagree.

A day after nurse Kaci Hickox was sent home from her quarantine in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie went on "The Today Show" this morning to defend his handling of the situation. He was asked whether he thought mandatory quarantines would discourage health-care workers from heading to West Africa to battle the deadly virus.
"No, it's not, because these folks go over there because they want to help and they want to make a difference, and we applaud them," Christie said. "By the same token, when they're in direct contact with people actively with the Ebola virus, asking them to quarantine at home for 21 days unless they're symptomatic, I don't think is draconian."
It may not be draconian to ask someone to stay at home for three weeks — the incubation period for Ebola — but it can also be much more than just a minor inconvenience for health-care professionals who've already volunteered their own time to fight the disease where it's most dangerous. The health-care community has widely warned that the mandatory quarantines of health-care workers could hurt their ability to make a living, as well as stigmatize workers who can't actually spread the virus unless they're showing symptoms.
Those are potential deterrents that workers will have to weigh as they consider going overseas. And ultimately, these are factors that could hurt the most critical part of containing the Ebola outbreak: sending more health-care workers to West Africa to fight the disease at its source.
"Mandatory quarantines may do more harm than good by creating additional barriers to effective treatment of patients with Ebola and impede global efforts to contain and ultimately prevent further spread of the disease," the American College of Physicians said in its statement against quarantines of health-care workers.
"Forced quarantines of healthcare workers with no symptoms of Ebola who have risked their lives to protect others are unnecessarily harsh and are not aligned with scientific evidence," said the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology in a statement.
And that's one of the reasons why the feds have struggled to put together policies on returning health-care workers. They need to protect the public at home, but they also don't want to hinder the fight against Ebola at the source of the outbreak.
The new CDC guidelines and policies adopted by some states, like Maryland, can be seen as an attempt to thread that needle. They prescribe at-home quarantines for "high-risk" workers, those who have knowingly come into dangerous contact with an Ebola patient — like accidentally sticking themselves with a syringe or handling patients without proper protective equipment. And they're considering asymptomatic workers who've safely treated Ebola patients at a lower risk — they're asking the workers to face continuous monitoring within the incubation window. But they're not being forced to stay at home.
This debate about quarantines comes as the World Bank president Tuesday morning warned an additional 5,000 health-care workers are needed in West Africa. And officials are worried that the growing fear around Ebola could leave them short of that goal.
"Right now, I'm very much worried about where we will find those health-care workers," said the head of the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, David Nabarro, according to the Associated Press. "With the fear factor going out of control in so many places, I hope health care professionals will understand that when they took their oath to become a health care worker it was precisely for moments like this."
Health-care workers have been just as courageous as we'd hope during this outbreak. But we also can't make it prohibitively difficult for them to go where they're needed.
Source - http://news360.com/article/263663373/#

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