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Dallas hospital forces Texas to re-imagine infectious-disease protocol.

By Tom Hushen, photos courtesy of the Office of the Governor

govAs the ebola virus continues to spread across West Africa, much of the world has begun to scrutinize domestic emergency-preparedness programs. With Texas being the first state in the U.S. to have a confirmed case of the ebola virus, the state is attempting to ensure that the virus does not spread.

The events that happened surrounding Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and Thomas Duncan, the first person in the U.S. to have contracted the virus, raised many eyebrows as the country witnessed how unprepared the hospital was.

According to a timeline published by NBC News, Duncan arrived at the hospital on Sept. 26, showing symptoms such as a 103-degree fever, as well as abnormal blood and urine lab work. Duncan had also stated that he recently returned from Liberia. He was sent home with antibiotics. On Sept. 28, after being symptomatic for multiple days, he was rushed back to the same hospital.

This slip-up at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has caused federal scrutiny about state-regulated emergency-response protocols, congressional hearings about the CDC and the infection of Nina Pham and Amber Joy Vinson, the two nurses who cared for Duncan.

Texas Governor Rick Parry issued a press release on Oct. 21 about the creation of the state-of-the-art ebola treatment and infectious-disease bio-containment facility in North Texas. This was the first request by his newly appointed Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response team.

“In the event of another diagnosis, this facility will allow us to act quickly to limit the virus’ reach and give patients the care they need in an environment where health-care workers are specially trained and equipped to deal with the unique requirements of this disease,” Perry said.

In addition to creating the new containment facility, Perry has designated the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to be a treatment center for infectious diseases like ebola. Other major hospitals throughout Texas, such as UT Southwestern Medical Center, Methodist Health System and Parkland Hospital, have all joined to help fight infectious diseases by donating personnel and equipment.


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