After the fourth Ebola patient was diagnosed in the U.S., fears of sending American citizens to high-risk countries have escalated. Many healthcare institutions have recently developed standardized procedures for handling contagious bodily fluids of Ebola patients. On Oct. 24, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced the pending release of an Ebola training module for nurses and doctors.
The Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, a 40-member team comprised of healthcare providers, engineers, epidemiologists and more from all over the world have banded together to create these interactive modules. They are accessible to doctors, nurses and health workers everywhere through iTunes U, the world’s largest database for educational content from organizations and schools, available to anyone with an iOS device.
In a video on the Armstrong Institute’s website, the Sandy Swoboda, of the School of Medicine and School of Nursing, the research coordinator and simulation educator for this program, reports the importance of teaching health care providers how to take off their infected equipment right after interacting with a patient.
She noted how most health workers in these areas are working in hot, cramped clinics and hospitals, which may only consist of one room, and must be overworked and under-equipped with adequate resources. In such situations, healthcare providers become extremely vulnerable to accidentally infecting themselves merely due to human mistake. Specifically, these “how-to” videos strive to raise awareness of what is proper personal protective equipment for working with Ebola, how to remove the gear and how to monitor yourself for signs of infection.
While this program may sound promising, freshman Osama Khokhar is not sure how effective such trainings will be in quelling the general population’s fears of rapid transmission of the deadly disease from healthcare professionals to patients.
“This initiative would decrease people’s anxiety over the Ebola epidemic but only to a small extent,” Khokhar said. “The biggest fear people have of Ebola is its high fatality rate, so unless there is a major breakthrough in [finding a] medication [to cure Ebola], it is highly unlikely that people be calmed.”
Khokhar also expressed concern for the role of the CDC in prevention of the epidemic.
“Has the CDC made sure that every physician [in high-risk countries] has access to the required medical equipment [and] to follow the hygiene standards?” Khokhar added.
Freshman Alondra Paulino is not optimistic about the lasting effect of the videos.
“I think they will be beneficial,” Paulino said. “They will decrease the fears that nurses and doctors may have, but I’m not sure the videos will alleviate the fears citizens have surrounding the Ebola epidemic... These videos will just add to the hype. They are going to be placed on iTunes, one of the largest and most popular (at least in the United States) databases.”
However, Paulino had questions as well.
“How will this [training] benefit nurses or other physicians outside of the U.S.?” she asked. “What about those without computers? Will they only be made in English? It’s interesting that a company as large as Apple is involved in the publication of these videos. Are they gaining anything from this?”
Earlier in the Ebola outbreak, such procedures were privately determined by the respective facility itself, but these modules are the first standardized attempt at infection prevention among health workers. There is no concrete date set for when the modules will finally be available on iTunes U, and no information yet on which countries they will available in.