With all the recent media coverage with the Ebola virus epidemic taking place in West Africa, and the global threats it may cause, infection control measures are intact to ensure public safety as well as our members within the healthcare system. Some people have asked the question “how safe are we all, really?”
Before I started working for SEIU Healthcare I was an SEIU member; I was a part of the Support Services team at Mount Sinai hospital for over 13 years and it was something I was proud to do. I was also aware of how easy infection control issues can spread, causing outbreaks and a serious risk to public health.
We truly have come a long way from the SARS outbreak in 2003. In the Toronto Star article, Dr. Allison McGeer speaks about having the best guidelines in preventing any outbreaks in Ontario after having gone through the horrific outbreak.
I remember what it was like going to work at the hospital during that period, having to fill out surveys before gaining entry, having to wear a hospital gown on top of my uniform, with gloves and a protective mask. Having to breathe into a mask for an 8-hour shift gets a bit annoying after a few days; feeling hot and tied down and then trying to peel out tight fitting hospital gowns for a 6 foot 4 man in torture. Trying to find a box of XXL gloves became a bit of a game from my travels from floor to floor as a porter. Not wearing the right size would result in my chubby fingers bursting out of the side of the lightly powdered latex glove. Safety first, always. SARS was no laughing matter.
But I know that these measures were in place for my own safety, and for the safety of each person around me.
Looking back at those memories, it was simply a routine procedure that was executed with hard work and by Dr.Allison McGeer and her dedicated infection control team at the hospital. Keeping the people inside and outside of the walls of the hospital safe. My heart goes out to all those suffering with the threat of Ebola in Africa. As more images begin to emerge from this situation, I can only hope that we can all contribute to help ending this global problematic virus.
I know that our members are making a difference in the various healthcare facilities, and knowing that safety in preventing outbreaks is still a top priority in Healthcare will make it easier to go home after a shift to their loved ones.