Ebola Scare Turns Dallas Hospital Into a ‘Ghost Town’

Ebola Scare Turns Dallas Hospital Into a ‘Ghost Town’ (ABC News, Oct 18, 2014):

The Dallas nurses who contracted Ebola while treating a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital have been moved from the building, but patients are still steering clear of the once-bustling hospital.

People have called to cancel outpatient procedures, and some have even opted not to go to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in emergency situations, ABC Dallas affiliate WFAA reports.

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

Texas Health Presbyterian’s average emergency room wait time had been 52 minutes, according to federal hospital data. But when ABC News called the hospital and asked the emergency department for the ER wait time today, the response was that there was no wait time.

The hospital has also taken public relations hits on a number of fronts. It was revealed that Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan was initially sent home from the ER even though he told staff there that he had recently come from West Africa, the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak. And this week, another health care worker who took care Duncan criticized the hospital administration for not providing proper training and equipment to nurses caring for Duncan.

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.

“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.”

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