By Richard Amerling, M.D., of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
I almost feel sorry for Tom Frieden, director of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). So many of his pronouncements have been eviscerated by events within hours or days. He has become a punchline and should resign for the good of the country.
Unfortunately, the Ebola crisis is no joke. Two Dallas nurses (who are special people in my book) have now become infected after taking care of an Ebola-infected patient who illegally flew to the U.S. when he knew he had been heavily exposed to the deadly virus.
To maintain, as does Dr. Frieden, that stopping travel to the U.S. from the few countries where Ebola is running rampant would somehow harm us is illogical to the point of absurdity. And it is now clear to every other sentient being that Ebola is far more contagious, and deadly, than AIDS, to which Dr. Frieden compared Ebola. The latest nugget is that Amber Vinson, the second Dallas nurse diagnosed with Ebola, called the CDC numerous times before boarding her flight from Cleveland back to Dallas and was told it was OK for her to fly because her fever did not quite reach the protocolized threshold!
Michelle Malkin describes how the CDC has been diverted from its original role into one of political “transformation.” Rather than fight disease, the CDC now pushes for mandatory motorcycle helmet laws, and studies playground accidents, video games and violence, and “social norming” in schools! No wonder it can’t handle Ebola.
This perversion of an organization is par for the Obama golf course. It resembles the transformation of NASA into a Muslim outreach group, or sending our military men and women to fight Ebola in Liberia. This latter is an outrageous abuse of our already beaten-down military. There should be generals resigning over this suicide mission.
Last week, Dan Henninger wrote in the Wall Street Journal about “Killer Bureaucracies”: “Ebola, the Secret Service, Veterans Affairs, Obamacare’s rollout, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Behind all these names are federal bureaucracies that are supposed to protect people or help them. Instead they have been putting individuals at risk, or worse.”
It should be clear to all by now that federal bureaucracies are either too corrupt, politicized, or incompetent to fulfill their core missions. I recently learned a new acronym: POSIWID. The Purpose of Something Is What It Does. This is a useful heuristic to cut through the mission statements, and so-called good intentions of people and organizations. The purpose of bureaucracies is to continually expand their payroll, budgets, and missions to the point of becoming massive, inefficient, and deadly. The federal government is institutionally incapable of protecting the citizenry.
We will have to take care of ourselves if we want to survive. Waiting for more CDC directives and guidelines is worse than counterproductive. There were apparently many lapses in “protocol” in Dallas, including sending the infected patient’s blood samples to the lab through the hospital’s pneumatic tube system.
Individual hospitals must act now to train personnel to deal with Ebola patients. Specialized referral hospitals can and will be set up, but all hospitals must be prepared for an Ebola admission. Appropriate protective gear and respirators must be on hand, and staff trained in how to use them. The issue of waste disposal is critical and must be addressed now.
But we shouldn’t need to deal with Ebola in the U.S. The importation of this dread disease must be stopped at the border.
In the absence of a federal ban on travel from affected countries, airlines should independently refuse to fly anyone who recently visited a region where the disease is endemic. Airlines can and do perform separate screening prior to travel to the U.S. Failing to do this places their crew and passengers at risk of infection. British Airways and Air France have already instituted travel bans.
And we must insist on securing our southern border. This is perhaps the greatest failure of the federal government and places the entire country in jeopardy.
Richard Amerling, M.D., is an associate professor of clinical medicine and a renowned academic nephrologist at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Amerling studied medicine at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, graduating cum laude in 1981. He completed a medical residency at the New York Hospital Queens and a nephrology fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He has written and lectured extensively on health-care issues and is president-elect of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Amerling is the author of the “Physicians’ Declaration of Independence” and is a seasoned speaker and on-air contributor.