By Dennis Culloton, President & CEO
The CDC is the latest government agency to be the subject of criticism, questioning and late night comedian ridicule. Reports in the Washington Post (https:///wapo.st/1rdC5Ho )indicate the second Texas hospital nurse, exposed to the Ebola virus from treating a West African Ebola victim who later died, was told by the CDC it was okay to fly commercial even though she had a low-grade fever.
Not only is a health care worker sick, but a plane full of passengers were potentially exposed to Ebola and definitely given a dose of anxiety. Airline stocks were battered on Wall Street as news of the report spread.
The President of the United States seems to understand this latest breakdown further erodes the trust people have in government agencies. He convened a cabinet meeting, cancelled travel plans and made a media statement to head off a widespread panic. His words were uplifting and comforting. But in the past year, after underestimating the terror group ISIS; having the U.S. Secret Service fall to a series of embarrassing gaffes which threatened the safety of the president and his family; and seeing charges the IRS allegedly was used for political purposes; not to mention the Obamacare website debacle, the American people are proving one axiom of crisis management is to offer more than words.
Don’t get me wrong a strong message is key. A strong statement needs to be more than mistakes were made and pants were lost. More than words, however, effective crisis management also means getting in front of a problem with a true operational and cultural solution that actually gets implemented.
It’s not too late for the CDC and the Obama administration to regain the trust of the American people, but there is no equity left from which to draw.