Patient-Centered Care Meets Ebola
October 17, 2014
Patient-centered care is calling for us to our focus skills, intentions, and financial resources on the patient. At the same time, our vision and concern must be broad enough to include everyone involved in and around patient care.
Recent events in the trajectory of the Ebola virus have revealed what we all know but fail to acknowledge: Those who care for the ill are at highest risk of becoming ill.
Any of us can move from being next to the bed to into the bed at any time, in any moment. The history of plagues and epidemics has shown this to be true.
In caring for those with Crimean Fever, Florence Nightingale came down with it. Incurable, debilitating, and painful, it led to her living the last half of her life as a recluse, bedridden, and depressed.
Nonetheless, she relentlessly continued with her work in establishing nursing as a profession and improving public health. Following the mantra of Nightingale are our nurses today.
While we assume our caregivers to be strong, we also sometimes look at them as super heroes, invulnerable to harm. And, one more time, Ebola renders the patient and caregiver so very equal, each being so very susceptible to all things human and ultimately sharing the same risks.
I am heartbroken to hear of nurses, doctors, and others dying in the course of caring for others. And, yet, it is the way of pandemics.
We say we have progressed, but we still find ourselves reluctant to accept how very small the globe is and how fast we move from one end to the other. Anyone who thought that Ebola would stay in South Africa is living in the past.
So, the blame comes forth. It is the nurse’s fault. No, it is the CDC’s fault. Nope, it is the person’s fault that thought he was not symptomatic. Blame yields blame and never leads to healing.
I celebrate each one of you who, on a daily basis, puts yourself among and in service to the sick as a matter of mission. The insensitivity and senseless seeking of fault is unfortunate when what we need is to unite in our caring for each other.
Yes, we will find out where the gaps are. However, right now, with the risk ever present, we must learn fast and save lives.
How can we claim to be providing patient-centered care when we don’t protect and respect those who care for our patients? We cannot give what we ourselves do not have: compassion for all within the circle of recovery, whatever role they play.
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