EDITORIAL: Hospitals need to worry more about ‘intended consequences’

For some odd reason, officials in almost all areas are afraid of transparency. They are afraid of the public they serve. The latest such incident is the decision by the Georgia Department of Public Health to keep secret the names of six hospitals that are preparing for Ebola patients by setting up special treatment areas. Only one, Emory University, is known. Emory has successfully treated four patients with the disease.

The suppression of information about the hospitals supposedly comes from the hospitals themselves -- but who would know? While a spokesperson for the GDPH says the secrecy is to prevent “unintended consequences,” there are more “intended consequences” by keeping the names of the hospitals secret. Ebola is shrouded by way too much unnecessary fear as it is, and either the hospitals or the GDPH decision to duck for cover only adds to the paranoia. While we can’t be sure, some of the hospitals are probably public and this decision sets up an area of questioning the hospitals are surely not going to like. Even a simple question for hospitals and the GDPH -- under these circumstances -- has to be looked at with skepticism. The idea that the hospital names will be released once preparation has been approved by the state is little consolation. They could just as easily remain hidden under the GDPH’s logic.

Better the hospitals be open about their preparations. That would make the public feel more confident in the treatment of an Ebola patient rather than have to worry about whether they are being told the truth.