Skip to main content

Ebola in Texas

A man sickened with Ebola in Texas has already made international news and the implications of case have multiple implications not only in healthcare, but in society and politics as well.

The first and most important thing is that Texas grossly underfunds public health in the state.  Under funding public health care means that citizens are at higher risk for falling victim to an epidemic disease like Ebola because there are insufficient resources (including training for the emergency room hospital workers to be able to recognize the disease's symptoms) to respond to the epidemic early and contain it.

Texas Republicans have cut back public health funding, undoubtedly because they see it as big government, to the point where the state with one of the fastest growing populations in the country ranks 34th nationally, according to a 2013 report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This is not new news. Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis gets the gift of a new talking point in an already tight election race.

When it comes to public health, government is the appropriate institution to respond to these kinds of crises. What most people don't know is that public health response to disease came from the business sector in the 1600s as global trade began to expand.  A ship that arrived into a port carrying diseases could quickly devastate a major trading center and hurt a country economically.  Business demanded better regulations around screening ships to protect their profits.

The sadder implications of the case in Texas is the likely social response.  Undoubtedly due to an already hostile culture toward outsiders in the state, we will likely see increased attacks on individuals perceived to carry the disease --most likely immigrant Africans since the man came from Liberia.  We don't actually know if he is Liberian, and that's important to remember.  He could easily be an aid worker or other professional based in Liberia who was home visiting family members.

Nationally I suspect we will start to see travel moratoriums put in place for countries where the disease has been detected.  This has big economic implications for these countries, many of which already struggle economically.  Their health systems were already made vulnerable enough by economic policies advocated by conservative political groups which advocate underfunding of healthcare systems in favor of private sector responses.  In a case like Ebola, you can't wait to have a bidding war among private healthcare providers to respond to an epidemic. Health systems around the world need to be appropriately funded so that workers have the resources, protection, and support they need to respond quickly and effectively to public health crises like Ebola. Without it, we are all at risk.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

There Are Other Masters Degrees Besides a Nurse Practitioner - Part I

It strikes me that many students and nurses do not seem to know about the "other" masters degree options for nurses.  Everyone seems to want to be a nurse practitioner these days.  Now, that's great news for the primary care provider shortage, but we need nurses with masters degrees who can work in other positions and have other skill sets.
Let's review the other masters degrees in nursing.  Nearest and dearest to my own heart is Nursing Education.  Remember that really cool clinical instructor you had in your entry-level nursing program --that could be you!  Do you like precepting new hires?  Are you the person on your unit who unofficially keeps everyone up-to-date on the latest evidence?  Do you really enjoy patient teaching, whether in the hospital or community setting?  Do you just like to teach?  Nursing education is the right masters for you.  Skills learned in a nursing education masters cannot be learned on the job.  Curriculum writing and program developmen…

Why You Will Get a "Bad" Grade in Nursing School & Why It Will be the Best Thing to Happen to You

Perhaps you have been a straight A student all your life.

Perhaps you had one subject you struggled with, got Bs in it, but mostly As in the rest of your classes.

Then you started nursing school.

Most students quickly discover that nursing is one of the hardest majors at any university. Not only do you have a lot of time in class, your "lab" equivalent involves learning how to care for really sick people. Most nursing students spend between 24 to 30 hours per week in class --and THEN have lots of reading and other assignments they need to do to prepare for their "labs." After all, in a chemistry lab you probably won't harm or kill anyone due to the highly controlled conditions. When any health profession student is learning, there is always the risk for mistakes and it's why they are so closely supervised.

Inevitably, every nursing student gets their definition of a "bad" grade. For some, this is an actual failure of a class and that can happen fo…

Language Barriers and Your Patients - Let the Evidence Guide Your Decisions so You Can Comply with the Law

In almost every health care setting in the United States (US) these days, nurses and other health care providers are dealing with language barriers as part of care delivery more than ever before. In fact, most countries in the world run into some kind of language barrier issue in the health care setting. Global migration means more tourists and immigrants for every country in the world. 
In the US, language access--meaning the availability of interpreters and their services-- is a civil right. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) also added new provisions for health care services providers around language access that are important for you to know. From CME Learning:
New rules on language access were implemented on July 18, 2016. These changes are sweeping in scope as they apply to “every [federal] health program or activity, any part of which receives Federal financial assistance.” Section 1557 is a “non-discrimination” provision that broadly prohibits discrimination in health care or health c…

Translate