Stop Piling On! A Missed Opportunity...

The following is an excerpt from Navigant Healthcare’s Pulse Weekly. Click here for a complete copy of this week’s article. 

The relentless media coverage about the handling of Ebola cases in the U.S. took a predictable and regrettable turn last week: journalists, pundits and politicians piled on Texas Health Presbyterian, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), airlines, and border security just for starters. Ineptitude, confusion, negligence, and blatant disregard for “standard operating procedures” and “rules” became prominent attack themes.

Let’s be honest: The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a menacing challenge to even the best hospitals and doctors in the world. There’s no cure. The vaccines showing promising results are still in clinical trials, and public health officials worldwide are currently limited to isolation and observation for 21 days as the only definitive course of treatment. But In the U.S., thousands will die from this year’s flu vs. the handful who might succumb to Ebola, so in context, it’s only one of many infectious disease challenges our health system faces.

So the Ebola virus and our handling of cases at home is a legitimate story. It’s about how an expensive health system like ours should address public health issues. It’s about how the healthcare workforce can be protected, and how local public health agencies work collaboratively with local providers to coordinate care in circumstances like these. And it’s about how to engage the public in self-monitoring, encourage vaccinations and promote health habits like hand-washing that keep us healthier.

While the world’s public health officials, caregivers and scientists race to curb the Ebola infection tragedy in West Africa, there’s much that can be done at home. Leaders in public health, politics, and healthcare providers should assess their preparedness. Admittedly, the events that unfolded in Dallas could have happened in most of our communities.

So there are lessons to be learned, but instead of piling on, the stories should also be about how hospitals, doctors, nurses, public health officials and local community leaders are collaborating to address public health problems. They should include the roles first responders, emergency room doctors and nurses play as they put their health at-risk to serve others every day. And coverage should be about addressing the complicated, and sometimes contradictory, policies and procedures of state and federal health agencies to which communities look for guidance.

Paul

Sources: Sabrina Tavernise, “CDC Director becomes Face of Nation’s Worry and Flawed Response,” New York Times, October 15, 2014; Donald G. McNeil, Jr., “Lax U.S. guidelines on Ebola Led to Poor Hospital Training, Experts Say,” New York Times, October 15, 2014; John Waggoner, Adam Shell, “Oil, Europe, Ebola Spook the Markets,” USA Today, October 16, 2014; Betsy McKay, Peter Loftus, “Ebola Response Strains Hospitals,” Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2014; Aryn Baker-Monrovia, “Racing Ebola: What the World Needs to do to stop the Deadly Virus,” Time, October 13, 2014; "Ebola virus disease: Fact sheet N°103," World Health Organization, September 2014

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Navigant Consulting, Inc. The information contained in this article is a summary and reflects current impressions based on industry data and news available at the time of publication. Any predictions and expectations noted herein are inherently uncertain and actual results may differ materially from those contained in this article. Navigant undertakes no obligation to update any of the information contained in the article.

© 2014 Navigant Consulting, Inc.