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Texas hospital a “ghost town” after Ebola scare

iStock | Franck-Boston

iStock | Franck-Boston

Although the two nurses who contracted Ebola at Texas Presbyterian in Dallas have been transferred to other facilities, many patients are avoiding that hospital. The drop in patients seem to be a combination of those canceling outpatient procedures and those avoiding the emergency room.

“We saw a large drop in the number of people going to Presbyterian,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins (who is responsible for the county’s disaster and emergency preparedness), according to WFAA in Dallas.

Healthcare vendor Rachelle Cohorn visited the hospital and described relatively empty floors. “The vibe is pretty much lockdown. It feels like a ghost town. No one is even walking around the hospital,” she said.

However, Dr. Dan Varga, chief clinical officer of Texas Health Resources—the owner of Texas Presbyterian—told ABC News the hospital is safe. “I would tell this community that Presby is an absolutely safe hospital to come to,” he said. He also said that many private offices around the campus of the hospital are also seeing high rates of cancellations due to their proximity to the hospital.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new guidelines for healthcare workers caring for Ebola patients. The new guidelines have three guiding principles, which include that these healthcare workers must have adequate training, leave no skin exposed and must be observed by a trained manager when putting on and taking off protective equipment.

Along with the full wording of these guidelines, the CDC’s website also contains an exhaustive list of how healthcare facilities can follow and enforce these guidelines, as well as other information on treating Ebola patients.

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The CDC also will now closely monitor travelers coming into the U.S. from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea for Ebola. Screenings of travelers are already being conducted at five airports in the U.S., and now the CDC will even monitor travelers who are not exhibiting symptoms of Ebola for 21 days after they arrive.

Those being monitored will be required to take their temperature daily and report the findings, along with whether or not they are experiencing any symptoms of Ebola. Six states have already taken measures to implement this policy: New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia. The CDC reports that 70 percent of incoming travelers from the three countries are heading to those six states.

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Finally, a few bits of good news: Nigeria is now free of any Ebola cases. The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola after the country reported no cases for 42 days.

The first Ebola case in Nigeria came from Lagos and was reported on July 23. This sparked extreme worry throughout the medical community as the city is the largest in Africa with 21 million residents.

A fast-acting government and medical community—along with extensive Ebola contact tracing—is credited with eradicating Ebola from the country.

And one of the Dallas nurses infected with Ebola is said to be free of the virus. The family of Amber Vinson says that doctors at Emory University Hospital no longer detect Ebola in her body. Vinson was moved to Emory in Atlanta on October 15, a day after being diagnosed with Ebola.

“We are overjoyed to announce that, as of [Tuesday] evening, officials at Emory University Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control are no longer able to detect virus in her body,” said a Vinson family spokesperson, according to Yahoo News.

The condition of Nina Pham, the other Dallas nurse diagnosed with the disease, has been upgraded to good, according to Associated Press reports. Pham is at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md. Both Pham and Vinson treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died on October 8.

Before she was transferred to Maryland, Pham’s hospital–Texas Presbyterian–released an emotional video of Pham conversing with her physician, Dr. Gary Weinstein.

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