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Ebola issues in America’s nursing homes

The emergence of Ebola in the United States over the past few weeks has resulted in widespread caution across the medical field, and the resulting reactions range from feelings of stigmatization to heights of hysteria.

Two incidents on the East Coast this week highlight the pros and cons of cautionary strategies as medical officials continue to try and stop the spread of Ebola.

In Rhode Island, a nursing home worker with flu-like symptoms was rushed to the hospital. The worker had recently visited Nigeria, where cases of Ebola have been reported, but not widely dispersed (compared to in nearby countries such as Liberia and Sierra Lione). The woman in question works at Cherry Hill Manor nursing home. It was determined that she was not infected with Ebola shortly upon her arrival at the hospital.

“In an abundance of caution on our end, we treate dit that way,” Johnston Fire Chief Timothy McLaughlin told WPRI News. “We’ve been working on these protocols for a while. When we got here, we immediately suited up, complete head to toe, as put forth by the CDC.”

“She seemed to have all the symptoms,” he said.

Oretha Bestman-Yates, a nursing home worker in Staten Island, New York, and a native Liberian, does not have any symptoms of Ebola. And yet, she has not been allowed to return to work even after completing a 21-day quarantine following a trip back to Liberia this summer, according to

Bestman-Yates said she is one of the several thousands Liberians in New York City that are being told not to report to work in hospitals and nursing homes, under assumptions that they are infected alone.

Liberia is one of the west African nations most severely afflicted with the disease.

Bestman-Yates feels west Africans working in the U.S medical field are being stigmatized. When allowed to work, they are being told not to touch patients, according to

“People try to avoid you, pull away from you,” Best-Yates told IRIN, a humanitarian news and analysis website. “I’ve had people tell me “We brought Ebola to the United States.’ Parents are telling their children to stay away from our children at school.”

IRIN asserts that stigma is on the increase due in part to a lack of knowledge about the geography of West Africa.

“There is not a lot of knowledge in the US about Africa – let alone West Africa,” activist Bobby Digi told IRIN. “They are painting the whole area with a very broad brush.”

That brush is resulting in various colors of caution, being exercised across the country.

To read more about Ebola issues relating to America’s nursing homes, check out the following resources:

The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.