Nurses’ calls for better hospital preparation around Ebola have landed on the bargaining table. California’s powerful nurses’ union has been bargaining with Kaiser Permanente for months over a new contract, and is now adding to its list of demands better training, protection, and insurance coverage for nurses who may treat patients infected with Ebola.
Diane McClure, a nurse at Kaiser’s South Sacramento facility, says nurses still had no meaningful training more than a month after a patient was admitted to the hospital for a potential Ebola infection, though he later tested negative for the virus.
“Kaiser felt all they had to do was pull up some CDC flyers and put them on the lunchroom tables or up in the bathrooms,” she says.
Nurses want hands-on, interactive training with demonstrations and the opportunity to ask questions, says McClure, who is a member of the California Nurses Association and part of the bargaining team negotiating with Kaiser Permanente Northern California. They also want better protective gear, and better coverage if a nurse gets sick while caring for patients.
“We are asking in our contract negotiations for an extra insurance policy,” she says. “We’d like to have an extra supplemental coverage, specifically for Ebola, if we were to contract Ebola while we’re at work.”