DENVER - Less than 24 hours after her transfer to the National Institute of Health in Maryland, nurse turned Ebola patient Nina Pham is reported to be in fair condition.
Pham was the first American nurse diagnosed with Ebola. Her case, and that of a colleague, has sounded the alarm for other nurses to seek more training specific for the disease.
One nurse who practices at the Anschutz Medical Campus, and teaches at University of Colorado nursing school, says changes are coming.
"This is a profession where we know there is a risk of hazardous exposure," Dr. Laura Rosenthal said.
She has spent the last two days on conference calls with the Center for Disease Control learning more about protocols that will protect her patients, her students, and her.
"They're sending out videos. They have on their website new protocols, new things that are coming out every day," she said.
Perhaps most importantly, the CDC has told nurses to examine more closely anyone with a fever of at least 100.4, lower than the previous 101.5 threshold. Also, the agency is working to prevent fatigue in nurses dealing with Ebola patients by doubling up on care.
"With these patients, there are pairs of nurses now so you are not allowed to go into an Ebola contact room unless you are with another person,"' she said.
Over the last few days, nurses around the country have voiced concerns about protective gear, fearful the industry standard isn't enough. Rosenthal says here, they will keep wearing the same equipment that's been in use for years: a mask, a waterproof gown, goggles, gloves and shoe-coverings. She says the risk comes when nurses don't put on or remove protection the right way.
"It is kind of a back to basics," Dr. Rosenthal said. "Those things are basic pieces of protective equipment that some nurses use every single day."
A spokesman for University of Colorado Hospital says a core group of employees have volunteered to take on Ebola patients if the disease hits our area. Those employees are getting advanced mandatory training that will be on-going.
Some units that would likely deal with Ebola patients, such as emergency care units, are also getting mandatory training. It is voluntary for everyone else.