MOSCOW, October 19 (RIA Novosti) - The chief executive of the Texas Health Resources, Barclay Berdan, apologized in a letter published Sunday for mistakes that have been made while handling the first US Ebola patient at the Presbyterian Hospital, and consequently the two nurses who contracted the virus.
“I am grateful to our team of caregivers for their dedication, compassion and tireless work in caring for these individuals and every patient who enters our [the Texas Presbyterian Hospital’s] doors. At the same time, as an institution, we made mistakes in handling this very difficult challenge,” Berdan said in the letter published on the Texas Health Resources website.
According to the letter, the hospital had begun training on how to handle a possible outbreak, but the virus “struck” before they had fully deployed their training and education program.
Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national who died on October 8, was the first US Ebola patient to be diagnosed at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Two nurses in their twenties, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who treated Duncan, were soon after confirmed to have contracted the virus.
“On that visit to the Emergency Department, we did not correctly diagnose his [Duncan’s] symptoms as those of Ebola. For this we feel deeply sorry,” Berdan added, explaining that Duncan’s travel to Africa was not effectively communicated to the health workers.
Prior to the official apology, Duncan’s family raised concern about his treatment, claiming he made it clear that he had traveled from Liberia. Duncan was reportedly sent back home with a high fever after being given some antibiotics, returning to the hospital in an ambulance after two days.
“The biggest unanswered question about my uncle’s death is why the hospital would send home a patient with a 103-degree fever and stomach pains who had recently been in Liberia, and he told them [the health workers] he had just returned from Liberia explicitly due to the Ebola threat,” Duncan’s nephew told Dallas News earlier this week, adding that the family knew of Duncan’s death via news and not his doctors.
According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola virus, with no known cure or effective vaccine, has so far claimed lives of over 4,500 people, and nearly 9,200 cases of confirmed or suspected infection have been registered.