NEW YORK–In the wake of news a doctor in New York City, recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea in West Africa, has now tested positive for Ebola, a leader of the nation’s largest nurses organization, National Nurses United (NNU), will step up the call for much higher preparedness for the Ebola threat in testimony to Congress this morning.

With the report of an Ebola case now hitting the most densely populated city in the United States, NNU’s call for optimal Ebola preparedness takes on added significance, said NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro.

“Everyone should appreciate the fact that our nurses are willing to care for the most deadly disease that we’ve encountered, and all they’re asking for is training, preparation and the right equipment,” said NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro.

NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Friday morning in Rayburn House Office

NNU has been urging Congress to legislatively mandate all U.S. hospitals to follow the highest possible Ebola standards and protocols to protect nurses, other frontline healthcare workers, and patients. The nurses are also asking the public to join them in signing an online petition calling on Congress and the White House to mandate higher preparedness by U.S. health facilities.

In prepared advance testimony, Burger notes:

Every RN who works in a hospital or healthcare facility could be Nina Pham or Amber Vinson, both of whom contracted Ebola while treating Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas. The Ebola pandemic and the exposure of health care workers to the virus in Texas and the real threat that it could occur elsewhere in the US, represent a clear and present danger to public health. The risk of exposure to the population at large merely starts with frontline caregivers like registered nurses, physicians and other healthcare workers – it does not end there. If we cannot protect our nurses and other healthcare workers, we cannot protect anyone. NNU, the largest organization of U.S. nurses, has been warning for two months that U.S. hospitals are inadequately prepared for patients who have contracted the deadly Ebola virus – and that substantially improved preparedness is needed for future pandemics that are likely to arrive as well. It is unconscionable that the hospitals do not have the optimal standards and protocols already in place to protect our caregivers. It is time for the hospitals to stop just protecting their profits and protect the public.  And the legislators need to stop enabling them by failing to act.

Despite the Ebola cases in Dallas and now New York, hospitals are still far behind in preparedness, says NNU. As of Wednesday afternoon, 3,000 RNs at more than 1,000 facilities in every U.S. state plus the District of Columbia and Virgin Islands have responded to an NNU national survey on Ebola preparedness. For example, 84 percent of the nurses still say their hospital has not provided education on Ebola with the abilityquestions.