‘Ghost Town’ Dallas Hospital Apologizes for Its ‘Ebola Mistakes’ in Full Page Ad

It seems that a few figurative tumbleweeds are blowing across the doors of Texas Health Presbyterian since Ebola Patient Zero Thomas Eric Duncan died of Ebola, and two of his nurses subsequently contracted the virus.

“It feels like a ghost town. No one is even walking around the hospital,” local health care vendor Rachelle Cohorn told WFAA.

Via ABC News:

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To weather the storm, the hospital will need to convince people that Texas Health Presbyterian is still a safe hospital, said Dr. Dan Varga, the chief clinical officer of Texas Health Resources, which owns the Dallas hospital.

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“I would tell this community that Presby is an absolutely safe hospital to come to,” Varga told ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser on Thursday. “We’ve been in communication with our doctors that have their private offices in our professional buildings around the campus who are getting 40, 50, 60 percent cancellations just for fear of being somewhere in the geography of the hospital where Ebola is treated.”

No one wants to go there. Who can blame them?

According to federal data, the average ER wait time at Texas Health Presbyterian used to clock in at 52 minutes. It used to take nearly an hour to get treatment there. I say used to, because when ABC News called the ER on October 18th, there was no wait time at all.

When I called just a few minutes ago (just after 4 p.m. October 20th), the lady who answered in the ER hesitated at my question and then responded with, “We really don’t give out wait times.”

Don’t give them out anymore, apparently.

And apparently no one in their right mind wants to go to this hospital after how badly they bungled the care of Thomas Duncan on top of the horrific nurses’ account that there was no protocol mandated throughout that entire situation. Again, two nurses who worked there have already contracted the disease and it’s kind of surprising there haven’t been more. In fact, reading the nurses’ play-by-play of Duncan’s care at that place almost makes it sound like the hospital would go down in history as the Ebola ground zero if the virus were to break out from any single place and ravage the country.

Yesterday the CEO Barclay Berdan of Texas Health Resources published a letter to the community in a full-page ad to apologize for its “mistakes.”


“We are devastated that our patient Thomas Eric Duncan lost his struggle with Ebola,” the letter says. Guess he’d be devastated, too, if he wasn’t dead. His family is pretty devastated. They are in talks with lawyers at the moment.

This place sent Duncan home with antibiotics (for flu symptoms?) even though they knew he had Ebola symptoms and had just traveled from Liberia. By the time he returned several days later, he was in much worse shape. According to the nurses’ statement, even the second time he came back, he was left in the general waiting area with other patients, and when one nurse in charge tried to isolate him, management actually fought her on it.

The letter continues —

“I know that, as an institution, we made mistakes in handling this very difficult challenge.”

Yes. Yes, you did.

“On [Mr. Duncan’s first] visit to the Emergency Department, we did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola.”

No. No, you didn’t.

“For this, we are deeply sorry.”

Oh good.

Can you just apologize for being directly responsible for someone else’s death? If I was directly responsible for someone’s death, I would at the very least likely be charged with involuntary manslaughter for my part. Then again, I’m not a corporation in America…

“Although we had begun our Ebola preparedness activities, our training and education programs had not been fully deployed before the virus struck.”

Everyone was well aware the Ebola situation was reportedly escalating over the summer. The CDC had been issuing guidelines since July. Duncan didn’t show up there until the end of September. Late to the game much?

And of course, right on time, as expected —

“Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas is a safe place for employees and patients.”

Is that why Ms. Pham and Ms. Vinson, employees turned Ebola patients, have been transferred to other hospitals for their treatment?

This sentence — the whole point of the entire letter, really, aside from all the groveling and excuses leading up to it — comes right before the paragraph discussing the fact that the hospital still has no clue how Mr. Pham and Ms. Vinson, “both skilled and careful nurses,” got infected with Ebola despite what the hospital claims was, “their compliance with the CDC’s protective equipment and safety procedures.”

Again, listen to the nurses’ statement detailing Duncan’s “care” in that place, the lack of protective equipment and training available to the staff, and the general handling of Ebola samples and tainted items there in general.

It’s not even a stretch to guess that most of you probably have more due diligence with basic cleanliness in your own homes than this hospital — which gets paid large sums to care for sick and hurt people — did.

“THERE WAS NO PROTOCOL”: Ebola Nurses’ Statement on the Treatment of Thomas Duncan

But don’t worry, Texas Health Resources CEO Berdan finished up the PR move with, “You have our commitment that we will continue to learn from this situation…”


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