On Oct. 14, your paper had a picture of a properly protected person, ready to deal with an Ebola patient. The person has exposed skin at the neck, and head above the eyes.

Working in a hospital, I have had sputum land in my hair when a patient coughed. I have had fluid hit my forehead and seep behind the goggles and into my eye. Next the fluid resistant gown. Resistant is not proof. And some of the gowns develop holes in the laundry. If there are one big enough to see easily, there are sure to be smaller ones.

The gloves. A while back, we got a new brand to evaluate. The whole back of the box was a disclaimer about how not fool-proof they were. The gloves we get are thin, to allow good sensitivity of feel. They rip easily, especially if your hands are sweaty when you are pulling them off.

Then they send a swarm (70-plus people) into a high-risk area, have them move the person around in the bed, a job that involves a degree of lift pressure equivalent to construction work, and wonder that something gets through.

So far, the African infection rate for health care workers is about 1 for 10 fatal cases treated. Ours is two for one, and may rise.

And it took one week to clean the infected person’s room, and is expected to take three weeks for the paper work to dispose of the material removed.

We need to take lessons for disaster conditions care from Africa, not try to teach them how it should be done.

In the time period when my ancestors came over, you had weeks on a ship for latent illnesses to show up. Ellis Island had medical examiners, and an isolation unit. Earlier, port doctors could order a ship held in quarantine.

We don’t have the ocean as a moat. Air travel has eliminated the safety feature of distance. We need to cut off are travel from the affected regions, until pre-embarkation quarantine is established.

Thomas Heyns


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