Avoiding Ebola Trumps Education
Carol Harnett's November HREOnline™ column, "Learning from Ebola," was a very timely piece. Interestingly, in discussing education, she pointed us to the Centers for Disease Control and I think we saw, during the two frantic weeks of Ebola in the United States, that the CDC was ill-prepared and constantly changing its message.
Since the dust has settled (for now), it seems pretty clear that the disease is hard to get in the early stages. And because "protected" nurses got the disease while treating a sick patient, clearly the risk rises dramatically once the disease progresses.
But for the general public, there remains no desire to be near any Ebola-exposed person for 21 days. There are two reasons. First, it can be a fatal disease. Second, if it doesn't kill you, the disease experience is awful and expensive (in terms of time and misery).
As an employer, I believe both reasons above apply to wanting it away from the workplace, since anyone who catches the disease will miss lots of time, assuming they are treated and released. And imagine the hit to the health plan! Also, imagine the angst created if an exposed person showed up and used the bathroom at the office!
Until a vaccine is developed, compensating a person to stay away is far cheaper in the long run than dealing with workplace panic and the potential (though extremely low) of actually dealing with the disease itself. And if you think education will work, just watch people's reaction around someone who has the 24-hour tummy bug!
Executive Vice President
Hamilton Caster & Manufacturing Co.