Nurses' Union Welcomes Ebola Czar – But Say Position Needs Authority
- New York 10/18/2014 (WBAI)

National Nurses United today welcomed the appointment of a White House Ebola czar, but said the move still falls short of what is needed if the Obama administration does not exercise its authority to require all hospitals to comply with the highest uniform, national safety standards with real penalties, including loss of Medicare funds, for those who fail to take those steps.

For nearly two months NNU has been calling for greater protective standards for patients, registered nurses and other frontline health workers in all U.S. hospitals that is necessary to effectively confront the deadly Ebola virus.

“In a nation that is handcuffed by a fragmented, uncoordinated privately-run health care industry, only a direct mandate from the President or Congress to order hospitals to implement the highest possible standards and protocols will suffice to attack and eradicate the threat of Ebola in the U.S.,” said NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro.

“What we need is a real czar to assure public safety, not a communicator, and the power to cut the hospitals’ Medicare and Medicaid funding if they still refuse to adhere to those standards and leave their patients, nurses and other caregivers at extreme risk,” DeMoro said.

Earlier this week, DeMoro, on behalf of NNU, sent a letter to President Obama calling on him to invoke his executive authority. “Not one more patient, nurse, or healthcare worker should be put at risk due to a lack of health care facility preparedness. The United States should be setting the example on how to contain and eradicate the Ebola virus,” the letter said.

Last night, NNU posted an online petition inviting everyone to join the demand for the President and Congress to act. The petition may be signed here.

In a matter of a few hours, more than 15,000 people signed the petition, the beginning of what is expected to be an un-precedent response, DeMoro predicted. “What Congress, the President and health care corporations have failed to understand is that the public supports the nurses’ demand for Nebraska Medical Center safety standards as nurses work every day in these extremely tense times.”