The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Charles Idelson, 415-559-8991

National Nurses Announce Donation to International Medical Corps for Ebola Health Work in West Africa


National Nurses United today announced a donation of $40,000 to the disaster relief organization International Medical Corps, which is on the front lines of the Ebola response, for its continued efforts to eradicate the deadly virus in West Africa.

"International Medical Corps' Emergency Response Teams have done outstanding work on the ground, especially in Liberia and Sierra Leone, in treating patients, operating treatment centers, and training frontline health workers to combat this virus," said Bonnie Castillo, RN, director of NNU's Registered Nurse Response Network, which coordinates NNU's own disaster relief efforts.

Nurses and the general public donated the funds in response to a call last year by RNRN and NNU to escalate the Ebola fight in West Africa. Part of that effort also included a donation RNRN/NNU arranged in September of 1,000 Hazmat special protective suits from Kappler Incorporated, an Alabama-based garment manufacturer, for nurses, doctors, and other health workers working in West Africa.

NNU also devoted substantial efforts to raising protective standards for nurses and other health workers in the U.S.

In addition to its work in Liberia and Sierra Leone, two of the countries that have endured the most devastating effects of Ebola that have made some progress in fighting the epidemic, International Medical Corps has begun stepping up its emergency efforts in Mali and Guinea, where Ebola has been on the upswing.

"We are very grateful to National Nurses United for their generous donation which will go towards purchasing personal protective equipment to support International Medical Corps' Ebola Treatment Units in West Africa. These suits are critical to our ability to treat patients, while keeping our doctors and nurses safe," said Rabih Torbay, Senior Vice President of International Operations for International Medical Corps. "We must work together to combat this deadly disease that, uncontained, might very well become a global catastrophe. Partnerships like this are absolutely vital," he said.

Castillo noted that the work of International Medical Corps, including the model they have used in protective equipment "has inspired nurses in the U.S., and also contributed to our efforts to insist on the proper equipment for nurses and other health workers who may encounter infected patients in the U.S."

"We could not be more proud of the work of International Medical Corps in West Africa, or the efforts of nurses here to help fight the spread of this awful epidemic. This work is an example of the vigilance we must have for the growing spread of all deadly epidemics," Castillo said.

NNU today also reported that the 1,000 Hazmat suits donated by Kappler have been widely distributed mostly in Liberia and Sierra Leone by Disaster Relief, a U.S.-based group that arranges disaster relief supplies to humanitarian groups.

"Due to the heightened demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) with the advent of the Ebola crisis, it has been difficult to obtain enough PPE to serve the huge need, and Direct Relief is very thankful that RN Response Network stepped forward and provided the Kappler suits," said Ashley Cooley, resource acquisition coordinator for Direct Relief.

"These Kappler suits are included in our Health Facility Kits, which contain enough essential supplies to ensure 100 health facilities can continue to serve their communities in Sierra Leone and Liberia. These suits are important for the protection of health care workers who encounter suspected Ebola cases, and will help patients and health care workers regain confidence in the health care system so that ongoing, non-Ebola health issues can be addressed," Cooley said.

RNRN/NNU, Castillo added, "enormously appreciate the contribution made by Kappler and the work of Direct Relief in making sure these suits are assisting in the lifesaving work on the ground in West Africa."

As of January 20, nearly 22,000 cases of Ebola have been reported with nearly 8,700 deaths, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in US history.

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