Texas Nurse Says Hospital Should Be 'Ashamed' of Ebola Response

Brianna Aguirre blamed hospital officials for infection of two health workers.

ByABC News
October 16, 2014, 5:46 PM

— -- A Dallas nurse said today that the administrators of the hospital where two colleagues contracted Ebola should be “ashamed” that they asked the women to “undertake this huge, monumental task” of treating an Ebola patient without the proper equipment and training.

Brianna Aguirre, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, told ABC News she was left “devastated” by the hospital administration’s response to the infection of two nurses, who treated an Ebola patient.

Aguirre said she never received any Ebola-response education until after an infected patient was admitted and the designated personal protective equipment used in the isolation ward left her neck exposed.

“They want to blame her for getting sick, when she was never provided the right supplies,” Aguirre said of infected nurse Nina Pham. “I’m devastated for my hospital and my future there.”

Aguirre described to ABC News a situation of “extreme chaos” in the isolation ward, where Ebola-infected patient Thomas Eric Duncan was treated.

Aguirre entered the ward only after Duncan’s death and said she had to ask for a mop and start cleaning the floors with bleach herself when she realized no one from housekeeping was allowed to come in and clean the floors.

“The nurses were throwing their hands up and saying this is unbelievable,” she said of the isolation ward.

Aguirre also said the protocols from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were confusing and not clear. When Aguirre was given personal protective equipment that left her neck exposed, she was horrified.

“We were told, ‘You take our guidelines and you do with it what you will,’” said Aguirre of CDC guidelines. “You make a system that will effectively make this unit run.”

Aguirre said in order to take her equipment off without contaminating herself, a co-worker had to direct her to take tape off her neck without touching any of the exposed skin.

“This is what makes me so upset right here,” Aguirre said pointing at a photo of a health worker at Texas Health Presbyterian in personal protective gear. “Her neck is hanging out. Her neck is exposed. That is exactly what ... I was not okay with it. I opposed it and I was very vocal.”

Aguirre also treated infected nurse Nina Pham at the hospital before she was confirmed to have Ebola. When Aguirre learned Pham was found positive for Ebola, she said she had a “mental breakdown.”

“I couldn’t breathe and couldn’t talk and couldn’t’ move,” Aguirre said.

Now that she has interacted with an Ebola patient, Aguirre said she is self-monitoring and constantly taking her temperature.

“I’m obviously anxious,” said Aguirre. “I’ve been having moments of time where I feel queasy. I take my temperature every half hour.”

She has also had to keep her two children from school because other students are so afraid they could be infectious.

“The reality is people are scared,” she said. “I can’t send them to school with the scrutiny that they’re going to be looked at as an infectious person.”

Two nurses Nina Pham, 26, and Amber Vinson, 29, were infected after they treated Duncan in the isolation ward at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Duncan died on Oct. 8.