As I write these words the Ebola crisis is rapidly developing. Two nurses have become infected with the virus and the exact mode of transmission is still unclear. Agencies at the local, state and national level are scrambling to confront this growing threat while news media are covering the crisis, many stoking the fires of fear and confusion.
Amidst this chaos the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the Florida Nurses Association (FNA) are working to calm fears, ensure public safety and advocate for nurses. Pam Cipriano, ANA president and Willa Fuller, executive director of FNA have appeared on many local and national radio and television programs addressing this crisis, calming fears and provided up to the minute facts about the crisis. They have represented our profession admirably and advocated tirelessly for the safety of the public and healthcare workers. They have also reminded us of the human loss of those afflicted with the disease.
ANA has joined the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association to call for the Centers for Disease Control to release unambiguous guidelines on what precautions are necessary to protect healthcare providers. (The importance and influence of this union of entities cannot be understated.) They have also coordinated their efforts and shared their resources with state affiliates to disseminate vital information as broadly as possible.
ANA and FNA have assumed lead roles to disseminate appropriate resources to ensure nurses are informed about the crisis with the hopes to empower nurses and prevent further transmission of the virus to healthcare providers. Included in these efforts was a Webinar to nurses addressing the Ebola crisis and provided our members with facts about the virus and what is needed to protect themselves and the public.
FNA’s response has included the formation of a working group of nurses experienced in the public health arena to develop strategies to educate the public, legislators and healthcare providers. The FNA board and lobbyists are reaching out to legislators and other healthcare leaders to advocate for policies and positions that ensure the safety of healthcare providers and the public.
As I write these words I cannot forecast how this crisis will develop, nor estimate the impact it will have on our state. The one thing I can confidently predict is that your professional association will be working tirelessly to ensure the safety of healthcare workers and the public. We will stand united in combating fear and ignorance and will be a continued information resource for our profession and the public.
It is my hope that you will join us in these efforts. We have learned from prior experiences that when crisis strikes nurses are prepared to lead the response. The efforts of ANA and FNA to the Ebola crisis are clear evidence of this. But our strength lies in numbers and our power lies in unity, so please stand with us to face this crisis.