News & Events

Nina Pham, Texas Nurse Who Survived Ebola, to Join Infectious Disease Control Expert Sean Kaufman at 2015 MNA Convention

When: Friday, Oct. 9     9:15 – 10:45 a.m.

Where: Resort and Conference Center at Hyannis, 35 Scudder Ave., Hyannis, MA 02601

What: “The Ebola Crisis: Containment Strategies for the Clinical Treatment of Ebola-the Nurses’ Role,” presented by Sean Kaufman, CEO and Founding Partner of Behavioral-Based Improvement Solutions

A year ago, Nina Pham awoke with a high temperature and drove herself to the hospital. A few days earlier, the registered nurse had learned that one of her patients at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas had died from an Ebola infection he had carried from Liberia. Now Nina had it too. But her diagnosis was a shock only to the extent that she was the first person to contract Ebola on United States soil. Otherwise, it should not have surprised anyone.

The U.S. hospital industry was wholly unprepared to deal with Ebola, despite a looming crisis that had already infected and killed thousands of people in West Africa. In Dallas, Nina and her fellow nurses were forced to use makeshift Ebola control techniques and were given inadequate equipment that failed to protect them. Closer to home, the Massachusetts Nurses Association pushed the state hospital industry last fall to better protect nurses and health care workers. MNA members testified at the State House on Ebola preparedness and supported a petition urging President Obama to mandate uniform, national standards and protocols.

After more than a year of pressuring hospitals to adopt necessary infectious disease control measures and provide effective personal protective equipment, only one has followed through. The MNA recently negotiated a landmark agreement on Ebola preparedness with Anna Jaques Hospital, an independent health care facility in Newburyport. The agreement offers the highest level of protection for nurses, including rigorous equipment protocols, one-to-one patient limits and color-coded decontamination zones.

Today Massachusetts nurses continue to advocate for increased safety around Ebola, and at the 2015 MNA Convention they will get a chance to hear Nina Pham’s riveting story. Although now virus-free, Nina is still dealing with the after-effects of the experimental drugs that were used to treat her. What she went through has made Nina eager to share her experience with other nurses for the first time. She will join Sean Kaufman, a former specialist at the Centers for Disease Control and Infection and a bio-security expert who taught infection control techniques to staff at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which treated Ebola patients last year.