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Health-care workers need better Ebola training: Nurses union

The head of the nation's largest nurses union lashed out at the Centers for Disease Control on Monday after the agency said a breach in protocol caused a Dallas nurse to become infected with Ebola.

What's desperately needed is proper training for health-care workers, Deborah Burger, co-president of National Nurses United, told CNBC.

"We're very, very outraged and angry they're blaming the nurse, again blaming the patient, for the spread of the disease, when we have been calling all along for better training and education," Burger said in an interview with "Power Lunch."

Dr. Thomas Friedan, the director of the CDC, made the comment during a news conference Sunday. On Monday, he apologized and said he felt terrible that a health worker had contracted the disease.

Dallas police set up a barrier after a hazmat vehicle entered the alley behind the apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas.
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Dallas police set up a barrier after a hazmat vehicle entered the alley behind the apartment where a second person diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on October 12, 2014 in Dallas.

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The nurse became infected while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States. Duncan died last Wednesday.

Burger said in a recent National Nurses United survey, 75 percent of nurses said they have not received the training they need and over a third said hospitals did not have enough supplies. The union polled more than 2,000 registered nurses at more than 750 facilities in 48 states, including the District of Columbia.

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Most important, Burger said, is the "training to use the equipment safely and making sure that there are adequate monitors to visualize how the health-care worker is taking off the equipment, and how they are putting it on, and how the waste is disposed of."

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., agreed that more training is needed, and the federal government has to help pay for it.

"There's no question that I think we need more funding," he told "Power Lunch."

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For example, the hospital preparedness program has been underfunded for the past couple of years, Casey noted.

Upping the funding by at least $125 million "would enormously help train the nurses more frequently, to give them all the resources by way of training and tools and protection they need," the senator said. "If you have good training it's expensive and you have to invest in it."

—Reuters contributed to this report.