Catholic center in Dallas took in Ebola contacts

Updated 12:19 a.m.

Louise Troh, her son and two nephews of Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan are released from mandatory monitoring, but will stay at the Catholic Conference Center in Dallas for several more days, until authorities can find them a place to rent, government and church officials said Monday morning.

Troh was Duncan’s girlfriend. She and the other three have been staying at the Dallas Diocese's Catholic Conference and Formation Center in Oak Cliff for the last 21 days.

The gated conference center sits only a few blocks off of I-35E and is enclosed by gates and a chainlink fence.

Bishop Kevin Farrell said he only thought about it briefly before agreeing to take in Troh and her family.

They have been isolated in a cabin at the back corner of the property away from the street. A Dallas County Sheriff's patrol car was parked about 50 yards inside the gate.

"I considered every property the church owns," Farrell said. "I was very impressed that the mayor personally came here.”

Retreats and conferences were canceled at the conference center but will resume this week.

Farrell said he is uncertain how long the family will stay.

"It could be one, two days, five days or 10," he said. "But they are welcome to stay as long as they need."

After the news conference, one car was seen leaving the facility but it was not clear whether any family members had left.

Gilbert Garcia, who lives across the street from the conference center, said neighbors weren't informed that the family was staying in the conference center.

"The center has been good neighbors until now," Garcia said. "They didn't tell us a thing."

Farrell said it has been a difficult ordeal for the family and there are concerns about where they will go.

"They were terrified obviously at the beginning and they are worried about the future," Farrell said. "But I know the community of Dallas is going to welcome them back."

The four were among the first 48 people who had contact with Duncan, who died of Ebola Oct. 8, to be released from mandatory monitorining Most were released Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Original story

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said 120 people are currently being monitored. Rawlings said the "magic day" for everyone on the watch list is Nov. 7.

Jenkins said the first 14 included those who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who died of Ebola, when he arrived in the emergency department at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas on Sept. 28. The other 34 had contact with him later that day after he was admitted. Duncan died of Ebola on Oct. 8.

Jenkins said the first 14 included those who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who died of Ebola, when he arrived in the emergency department at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas on Sept. 28. The other 34 had contact with him later that day after he was admitted. Duncan died of Ebola on Oct. 8.

Two nurses who contracted Ebola while tending to him are hospitalized in biocontainment units in Maryland and Atlanta.

Nina Pham remained in fair but stable condition and was “resting comfortably” at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., agency spokesman John Burklow said Sunday, adding that her condition was unchanged since Thursday. Pham, 26, of Dallas grew up in Fort Worth.

The family of the second nurse, Amber Vinson of Dallas, released a statement Sunday saying they have hired Billy Martin, an attorney in Washington, D.C., who has represented NBA players and others.

Vinson, 29, whose condition has been kept private, is at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Vinson family ‘troubled’ by comments

Vinson’s family members said in the statement that they are optimistic about her condition and describe her actions in detail. Vinson flew from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to Cleveland and back when she had a fever but before she tested positive for the virus. Children in several Texas school districts, including Belton and Saginaw, were on flights with her and are being monitored, not attending school.

The statement says: We are troubled by some of the negative public comments and media coverage that mischaracterize Amber and her actions. To be clear, in no way was Amber careless prior to or after her exposure to Mr. Thomas Eric Duncan.”

Vinson left for Cleveland before Pham tested positive, the family’s statement says. While she was in Ohio, she heard of Pham’s diagnosis and was contacted by the Dallas County health department.

She reported her temperature and was asked to self-monitor and report results twice daily. The statement says that when she got ready to return to Dallas, she reported her temperature three different times before boarding the flight, which was delayed, and was cleared each time.

The day after she got back to Dallas, on Oct. 14, Vinson reported a temperature of 100.3 degrees, admitted herself to Presbyterian and has been quarantined since.

Duncan’s girlfriend cleared

Louise Troh, the woman Duncan flew to Dallas to marry, is among those who should be in the clear Monday morning. He was staying with her when he became ill.

She said in a statement: “Our happiness is mixed with sadness at the same time. My beloved fiance, Thomas Eric Duncan, who was also the father of my son, Karsiah Eric Duncan, did not survive with us. We continue to mourn his loss and grieve the circumstances that led to his death, just at the time we thought we were facing a happy future together.”

Troh also asks for privacy, adding, “I do have a story to tell, and I look forward to telling it in my own way.”

It remains to be seen where she will go. Jenkins said the family will stay Monday, in the four-bedroom home in a gated community donated for their use, and then move to a temporary rental.

“Our hope is, as the community concerns die down, there won't be any reluctance to rent to a fine family,” Jenkins said.

Troh plans to partially recover financially with a book about her life, from growing up in Liberia, meeting Duncan in a refugee camp in Ivory Coast, Duncan’s years-long quest to come to America to be reunited with her and their 19-year-old son, and his death in an isolation ward.

“It will be a love story,” she said.

Hospital apologizes, guidelines revised

Also Sunday, Texas Health Resources, the hospital’s parent company, published full-page ads in the Star-Telegram and The Dallas Morning News, in which CEO Barclay Berdan said, “We made mistakes in handling this very difficult challenge.”

Berdan praised the Presbyterian staff and said it is a safe hospital. But he acknowledged there was a missed opportunity.

“When we initally treated Mr. Duncan, we examined him thoroughly and performed numerous tests, but the fact that Mr. Duncan had traveled to Africa was not communicated effectively among the care team, though it was in his medical chart,” Berdan wrote. “On that visit to the Emergency Department, we did not correctly diagnose his symptoms. For that, we are truly sorry.”

The ad also acknowledges that “as an institution, we made mistakes in handling this very difficult challenge.” Berdan writes that the hospital has conducted specialized training and made changes in the electronic medical record system to improve its response.

Guidelines for personal protective equipment for healthcare workers treating Ebola patients are being revised and will include using protective gear “with no skin showing,” a top federal health official said Sunday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said the Dallas workers were left vulnerable because some of their skin was exposed.

“Very clearly, when you go into a hospital, have to intubate somebody, have all of the body fluids, you’ve got to be completely covered. So that’s going to be one of the things … to be complete covering with no skin showing whatsoever,” he said.

Fauci appeared on ABC’s This Week, NBC’s Meet the Press, Fox News Sunday, CNN’s State of the Union and CBS’ Face the Nation. Jenkins appeared on ABC.

“We’re focused on these healthcare workers and continue to be planning in case we see more cases but today will be a good day when we get to midnight,” Jenkins said.

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

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