DALLAS (TheBlaze/AP) — A 26-year-old nurse said in a newspaper interview that a hospital where she had worked in Dallas and its parent company failed her when she contracted Ebola while caring for the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with the deadly disease.
Nina Pham told The Dallas Morning News in the interview that she is preparing to file a lawsuit Monday in Dallas County against Texas Health Resources. She said she continues to suffer from body aches and insomnia after contracting the disease from a patient she cared for last fall at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.
In this Feb. 25, 2015, photo, Ebola survivor Nina Pham walks in a park with her dog Bentley in Dallas. Pham told The Dallas Morning News in the interview that she is preparing to file a lawsuit Monday, March 2, in Dallas County against Texas Health Resources. She said she continues to suffer from body aches and insomnia after contracting the disease from a patient she cared for last fall at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. (AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Smiley N. Pool)
Pham alleged the hospital's lack of training and proper equipment and violations of her privacy made her "a symbol of corporate neglect — a casualty of a hospital system's failure to prepare for a known and impending medical crisis."
She also told the newspaper that Texas Health Resources was negligent because it failed to develop policies and train its staff for treating Ebola patients. She also told the paper that the company did not have proper protective gear for those who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, who died after becoming the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with the disease stemming from an outbreak in West Africa. Duncan, who contracted the disease on a visit to his native Liberia, died last fall only days before Pham tested positive for the disease.
She told paper she was frightened when Duncan tested positive for Ebola as panic and fear went throughout the hospital.
"I was the last person beside Mr. Duncan to find out he was positive," she told the Morning News. "You'd think the primary nurse would be the first to know."
Her attorney, Charla Aldous, told the paper Texas Health Resources "used Nina as a PR pawn."
The Morning News said Wendell Watson, a spokesman for Texas Health Resources, declined to address specifics of Pham's allegations.
"Nina Pham bravely served Texas Health Dallas during a most difficult time. We continue to support and wish the best for her, and we remain optimistic that constructive dialogue can resolve this matter," Watson said.
Pham will ask in her lawsuit for unspecified damages for physical pain and mental anguish, medical expenses and loss of future earnings. But she said that she wants to "make hospitals and big corporations realize that nurses and health care workers, especially front line people, are important. And we don't want nurses to start turning into patients."
Pham and another nurse who worked at Texas Health Presbyterian, Amber Vinson, both became infected after caring for Duncan, according to medical records released to The Associated Press. Both have recovered. Initially treated in Texas, Pham was released last October from a hospital attached to the National Institutes of Health near Washington, D.C.
In other recent news on the Ebola front, countries stricken by the deadly disease have seen a drastic drop in incidence rates since the outbreak started in West Africa in Dec. 2013. According to the most recent estimates from the World Health Organization, there have been up to 23,825 Ebola cases in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, resulting in 9,660 deaths as of Feb. 27.
Despite the rate of infection spread becoming less and less in recent months, these countries are still on high alert.
Sierra Leone's vice president put himself in quarantine over the weekend following the death from Ebola of one of his security guards.
The Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation late Saturday night reported that Vice President Sam Sumana voluntarily decided to quarantine himself for 21 days following the death from Ebola last Tuesday of one of his security personnel.
The report said Sumana called on all those who have been in contact with the dead man to also put themselves in quarantine.
Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Theo Nicol told the Associated Press that Sumana put himself in quarantine because he wants to lead by example. He said Sumana will carry out his official duties from home for 21 days.
As for possible vaccines, ongoing clinical trials are evaluating new drugs to see if they can effectively prevent spread of the virus. There is currently no Ebola vaccine.
WHO will decide in August whether to recommend a program of mass vaccination against Ebola in affected countries, weighing the results of these clinical trials, the state of the epidemic and the logistical challenges of carrying out such a program.
Currently, two Ebola vaccines are being tested, but it's unknown how effective they are or what dose might be needed to protect people against the deadly virus.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said a final decision about whether to conduct widespread immunization would be taken by the ministers of the countries involved.