Veracity, Docs, Nurses, and Ebola

The Barometer and others understand that we don’t know everything about Ebola. We also understand that panic does not always walk on the same side of the street as rational thought. However, panic is tough to conquer when a disease with a 70% death rate (give or take 10-30%) creeps into the country. We are lectured, daily, by Nurse Kaci Hickox, a Doctors Without Borders nurse, who landed in Newark from Sierra Leone after having spent weeks there helping to stamp out this scourge. Ms. Hickox ended up in a tent outside a hospital in Newark. The Barometer understands her indignation. Newark is tough town for campers. Newark is a tough town for those who are fully armed and housed in permanent buildings. We could abide the lectures and accept the assurances from Ms. Hickox that she does not have Ebola save it be for one troubling issue: veracity. According to papers filed by the state of Maine is this temper tantrum of a case, Ms. Hickox’s roomie in Sierra Leone had Ebola. Withholding that information from the lectures cuts credibility, and builds the public’s lack of trust.

Then there is Dr. Craig Spencer, the New York City doc who, thankfully, seems to be recovering from Ebola in Belleview Hospital there. When the reports on Dr. Spencer’s illness were originally reported, the story was that he was a noble soul who had served in Guinea as part of Doctors Without Borders. He had assured those who arrived initially to get him to the hospital that he had been self-quarantined in his apartment. Then the first-responders checked his subway card. Turned out that the good doc had been using the subway to go out bowling, to a restaurant, and home again via Uber cab. There it is — Why not just tell us the truth about your comings and goings? If, as so many assure us, Ebola cannot be spread on a subway, or in a cab, or at the bowling alley (although the Barometer would worry about the shoes), why the need for the doc to hold back on where he was and what he was doing?

And if Nurse Hickox is as confident as she claims about being Ebola free and that it cannot be spread by touch or proximity, then why not tell us about the roomie’s status? We can handle the truth (Hollywood’s and Jack Nicholson’s take aside). What has been missing is the truth, the full truth in both of these cases. In both of these situations, facts percolated to the surface, but not through any effort of the two health-care professionals who are trying to convince us that there is “nothing to see here . . . move along.” Rather, the facts emerged through third-party sources and investigation.

These two examples of those who bravely went to the Ebola frontline make us wonder about information, trust, truth, and where to turn. With so many reversals on the so-called “science” and protocols, we are left to wonder, “Does anyone really know?” When these inconsistencies are coupled with the behaviors and non-disclosures of a doc and nurse, we think a little panic is in order, panic best summarized by this question, “Is there anyone we can trust when it comes to information about this disease and its transmission? Oh, and we mean FULL information.”

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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