Dallas hospital at center of Ebola drama apologizes in full-page newspaper ad

The maelstrom of Ebola fears in the United States has swirled around one Dallas hospital, where the only U.S. patient has died, two nurses became infected and traveling employees triggered fearful scrambles.
With the eyes of the nation upon it, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, in a full-page newspaper ad, knelt once more for an apology.
We slipped up; we’re deeply sorry; we’ll do better.
That could serve as a summary of the open letter from Texas Health Resources CEO Barclay Berdan which appeared in the Sunday editions of the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The turmoil started with a misdiagnosis in September. When Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan came to the hospital with Ebola symptoms, health care workers initially sent him home with antibiotics.
They recorded his travel history to West Africa, where a raging Ebola outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people. But they didn’t give that detail the necessary attention, the hospital said.
Duncan later died in the hospital’s care; two of its workers then caught the disease.
“As an institution, we made mistakes in handling this very difficult challenge,” Berdan wrote. The hospital is analyzing the errors and will make changes, he said.
Hopefully others will also learn from those mistakes and the first cases of Ebola contagion in the country, and its first death, will also be its last, Berdan wrote.

White House eyes Dallas
At the White House on Saturday night, President Obama and Vice President Biden pursued the same goal, together with a roster of uppermost security and health leaders — including Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thomas Frieden.
They zeroed in on Dallas and the process of tracing anyone who may have come into contact with any of the infected people, a White House statement said.
And after Duncan’s misdiagnosis, the administration said it intends to “ensure that Dallas has all of the appropriate and necessary resources to diagnose any additional cases safely and effectively.”

Cruise ship hubbub to end

Early Sunday, the arrival of a Carnival Cruise ship in Galveston harbor, should mark the beginning of the end of an Ebola travel scare that triggered an international diplomatic hubbub.
In an abundance of caution to avoid any possible spread of the Ebola virus, about 50 people associated with Texas Health Presbyterian have signed a document legally restricting where they can go until they are cleared of Ebola.
But before the voluntary travel ban existed, two Dallas health care workers took trips, eliciting hefty responses. One of them was a lab supervisor, who boarded the cruise ship to the Central American country of Belize.
She had had no direct contact with Duncan but may have had contact with one of his lab specimens. A doctor on board the ship said she was symptom free with the incubation period that the disease needs to manifest itself coming to a close.
She appeared to be home free.
But in an abundance of caution, the State Department planned to fly the lab supervisor back to the United States from Belize City’s airport. Then the country’s government declined to let her onto land and, in the same week, imposed strict travel bans on anyone who has had contact with Ebola affected areas.

There is good news
There are hopeful signs that some of the Ebola contagion scare in the United States could be winding down. Of the four patients currently being treated, at least two appear to be making a recovery.
And the monitoring of 48 people who came into contact with Duncan should draw to a close soon.
Duncan was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian on September 28, when he went there the second time. That was the last day any of the monitored people could have had contact with him.
The maximum incubation period for Ebola is 21 days. That period runs out on Monday.
Still in West Africa, the disease continues to spread exponentially, as the international response remains anemic.
With predictions that Ebola could infect an additional 5,000 to 10,000 people there per week starting in December, and given the mobility of world travel, the whirlwind surrounding Duncan’s case might not be the last.

The following two tabs change content below.
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.