Hundreds of health care workers gathered in a large ballroom near LAX Friday to attend a mass Ebola training.
Kaiser Permanente ICU nurse Peter Sidhu put on and took off protective gear in front of about 400 people, while more watched a webcast from about 800 locations throughout California, according to representatives from SEIU - United Healthcare Workers West.
The two-hour training session also included a question and answer session for the workers - from nurses to sanitation crews. Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions co-hosted the event, along with the Partnership for Quality Care, a national coalition of providers and unions.
The collaboration stood in contrast to recent tension over Ebola preparation. Some nurses have accused hospitals of not adequately preparing their staffs to treat the virus.
"We need to sit down and create a workflow and a design around that conversation and not just stand out and say it’s not working, it’s not working, it’s not working," said Denise Duncan, a nurse and vice president of the United Nurses Associations of California.
Arjun Srinivasan, associate director for healthcare associated infection prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control, said this is the second mass training he has attended. The first was in New York, he added.
"It’s going to take all of us," he said. "It’s a complex and challenging disease and the response to it has to be robust and it can’t just be one group that takes this on. It has to be everybody working together."
Juan Mendez, a radiology technician at Kaiser’s Los Angeles medical center, was grateful for the Ebola training session. At work, he said, training has been focused on those in the ER and the ICU. Mendez said he is fairly confident he would not be at risk if a case came into his hospital, but he said the more he knows, the better.
“It puts a broad aspect of healthcare workers together and they are not getting bits and pieces they get on the news or the internet," Mendez said. "You are getting live up to date training."
West L.A. Kaiser nurse Gianna Valenzuela said the training represents the ongoing partnership between Kaiser and its workers on this issue. But, she said, that isn't the case across the industry for those who have been voicing issues around preparation and training.
"The health care providers need to be heard and if there is any concern at all it’s good they are speaking up," she said. " They are the first line of defense so if they feel they don’t have enough equipment and protection they should speak up so things can be fixed."
Valenzuela said the nurses at Kaiser are getting weekly updates on how to protect patients and themselves.