Dallas diocese provided secret Ebola isolation home

As the 21-day isolation period ended for the family of Thomas Eric Duncan — the first Dallas Ebola patient — we’ve learned they were secretly housed at a Catholic Diocese Conference Center in Oak Cliff.

Bishop Kevin Farrell, who made the compound available, finally met Duncan’s finance, Louise Troh, and her family on Monday.

In a one-on-one interview with WFAA’s David Schechter, Farrell said city and county leaders were under pressure to get her family out of their apartment complex because media attention was too intense.

Farrell said Mayor Mike Rawlings and County Judge Clay Jenkins asked if the diocese could find another place for the family to live and do it immediately. He offered them a large, secure retreat center in Oak Cliff.

Here is an excerpt from the transcript of that interview.

Bishop Kevin Farrell: It probably took me less than 15 minutes to decide to do this.

David Schechter: It was easy? It was an easy decision?

Farrell: It wasn’t easy but I knew I had to do it.

Schechter: Why?

Farrell: Why? Because that’s what we do. Because that’s our tradition.

KF: What would Jesus do? Well, that’s exactly what he would’ve done.

Schechter: But I think you have people who say had this man not come to this country with this illness we wouldn’t be dealing with this. And that’s a lot of people who are saying that.

Farrell: It so happens that it happened. What are you going to do? You can’t change the past

Schechter: Did you think in your mind if the word got out as to where these people were that you would have people at the gates with pitchforks?

Farrell: Yes. I thought about that. And I was deeply concerned. I had hoped and prayed that media would respect the privacy. I am, so grateful that they did it.

Schechter: How meaningful was it for them to have a space where they didn’t have to worry?

Farrell: Well, it was essential for them. They were caught up in this furor of people all over the place around them. They couldn’t even look out the window of the apartment without flashes of cameras.

Schechter: Fifty years ago when Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, the world was watching and they called Dallas the “City of Hate.” Fifty years later, the world is watching Dallas again. What do you want the world to call us now?

Farrell: I want the world to call us a wonderful, caring city that we are. It will be because of what happened in Dallas that will make our nation safer from Ebola. And we will be a shining light for the rest of the United States.

The bishop said Rawlings and Jenkins asked him to carefully guard the knowledge of where the family was staying. And, in fact, even though the church was forced to cancel several scheduled retreats in order to house Troh and her family, hardly anyone at the diocese knew the real story — until now.

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Dan Mullin is an active writer and editor for the Pluto Daily who covered the 2014 Ebola Outbreak. Mullin attended the Wake Forest School of Medicine before leaving to pursue his lifelong science goal of allowing humans to live forever via a computer/brain transfer.