Ebola Patient's Fiancee Gets Hospital Apology for His Death

Will Montgomery(DALLAS) -- The hospital that cared for the first man diagnosed with Ebola in the United States called his fiancee Thursday to apologize for not being able to save him.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas called Louise Troh, the fiancee of Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, who died on Oct. 8. He is the only person to die of Ebola in the United States.

"This official said the hospital was 'deeply sorry' for the way this tragedy played out," Troh said in a statement. "I am grateful to the hospital for this personal call. I am grateful to God that this leader reached out and took responsibility for the hospital's actions. Hearing this information will help me as I mourn Eric's death."

Duncan arrived in Dallas from Liberia on Sept. 20 and went to the hospital on Sept. 26 with a 103-degree fever. He told a nurse he had recently been in Liberia but was sent home with antibiotics and told to take Tylenol for his pain, which he said was severe. He returned in an ambulance two days later when his symptoms worsened and was later isolated and diagnosed with Ebola.

Some members of Duncan's family said his treatment wasn't "fair."

Troh, however, said Thursday, "It is my position that God is the judge of others and their actions, and vengeance is not mine to demand. God is the judge, and God will take care of me."

Two nurses who cared for Duncan contracted Ebola and were diagnosed with the virus this week. Nina Pham, 26, will be moved to the National Institutes for Health's facility for continued care Thursday night, and Amber Vinson, 29, arrived at Emory University Hospital Wednesday night.

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Frontier Airlines Seeks Passengers on Same Plane as Ebola-Infected Nurse

WEWS(NEW YORK) -- Frontier Airlines is searching for passengers from at least five different flights who flew on the same plane as an Ebola-infected nurse from Dallas.

The airline announced that it was reaching out to passengers who traveled on the same plane as Amber Vinson. They also said the plane was out of service as they replace seat covers and carpet in the middle of the aircraft, where Vinson was sitting.

Vinson, 29, was infected with Ebola after treating Thomas Eric Duncan earlier this month. She was isolated and diagnosed with Ebola on Oct. 14.

A day before being diagnosed, Vinson flew on Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas. The plane was cleaned after Vinson’s flight.

The following day the plane was used for at least five different commercial flights, including a return trip to Cleveland, where it was cleaned again.

Frontier Airlines has not clarified why they are reaching out to passengers and did not provide specifics to ABC News.

The plane is scheduled to return to service in the next several days.

Before flying from Cleveland, Vinson had reportedly called U.S. Centers for Disease Control personnel to report she had an elevated temperature of 99.5. The temperature was below the 100.4 reading that would designate a fever. She was not told that she could not fly on a commercial airliner.

She arrived at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital the following day with a fever.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Dallas Hospital Staff Had No Ebola Training, Official Says

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Health care workers in the Dallas hospital that treated a patient who died from Ebola and then treated two nurses who contracted the disease never received training on how to treat Ebola patients and avoid spreading the highly contagious disease, a top hospital official said at a Congressional hearing Thursday.

Dr. Daniel Varga said that, even though guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were sent to the emergency department at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in late July, there was no follow-up training ordered for the staff. Less than two months later, the hospital staff sent a man with Ebola home with a fever even though he was likely contagious at the time.

Varga is one of the panel of top American health officials who testified in Congress Thursday at a hearing on the federal government's response to Ebola cases in the United States.

"People are scared," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "People's lives are at stake, and the response so far has been unacceptable."

During the hearing, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said that one of the infected nurses did not violate any rules by boarding a commercial airliner the day before she was diagnosed with Ebola.

Frieden said that while nurse Amber Vinson, 29, was in contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who died of Ebola, she had worn personal protective equipment and she did not need to have her movement restricted.

Frieden said that Vinson did contact the CDC before flying back to Dallas.

“I have not seen the transcript of the conversation,” Frieden said. “My understanding is that she reported no symptoms to us.”

Representatives from the House Energy and Commerce Committee questioned the panel about a host of issues including proper personal protective equipment, the possibility that dogs can transmit Ebola, parental concerns about sending children to public schools, and the prospect of a travel ban from west Africa.

Frieden said the CDC has "discussed the travel issue" with the White House, but would not confirm whether or not a ban has been ruled out.

The CDC and the Obama administration have repeatedly said that banning flights would not stop the spread of the disease in Africa and would only make it harder for authorities to track potentially infected individuals because they would find different ways into the country without proper screening.

He said there are "approximately" 100 to 150 travelers who arrive in America on a daily basis who started their journeys in the Ebola "hot zones."

"There will not be a large outbreak here barring a mutation," Frieden said.

"We're absolutely looking for other mutations or changes," he said.

Without placing blame on the Dallas hospital, National Institutes of Health's allergy and infectious diseases director Anthony Fauci confirmed that both nurses who contracted the disease while treating Duncan have since been moved out of the Dallas hospital where they worked and were being treated.

Vinson was moved to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta Wednesday and Nina Pham was taken to the NIH facility in Maryland Thursday.

Varga said that the NIH facility only has one other bed for a potential patient in their "state-of-the-art" isolation unit.

"Her condition is stable and she seems to be doing reasonably well," Fauci said of Pham.

President Obama canceled travel plans to stay at the White House and oversee the government's response to the Ebola problem.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Who Is the 'Clipboard Man' Without Hazmat Suit During Ebola Transport?

ABC News(ATLANTA) -- The man seen not wearing a hazmat suit while standing just feet away from the second nurse with Ebola as she was transported to Emory University hospital did not need to wear the protective gear, the medical airline said.

The nurse, identified Wednesday as Amber Vinson, was flown from Dallas to Atlanta on medical airline Phoenix Air.

She was seen being transported to and from the ambulance by three people in full body hazmat suits, but the fourth person by her stretcher was wearing plainclothes and holding a clipboard.

The airline confirmed to ABC News that the man was their medical protocol supervisor who was purposefully not wearing protective gear.

"Our medical professionals in the biohazard suits have limited vision and mobility and it is the protocol supervisor’s job to watch each person carefully and give them verbal directions to insure no close contact protocols are violated," a spokesperson from Phoenix Air told ABC News said.

"There is absolutely no problem with this and in fact insures an even higher level of safety for all involved," the spokesperson said.

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How to Feel Less Guilty About Guilty Pleasures

Thinkstock(HONG KONG) -- So you’re sitting in a restaurant after the main course and along comes the waiter with the desert tray to offer a delectable treat to top off the meal.

Often, people will turn down the dessert, not because they’re not hungry but because they feel guilty about the indulgence.

However, what happens if a dinner companion gets a desert and offers to share it? Well, that’s a different story for a lot of people, according to researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Fangyuan Chen and Jaideep Sengupta say, “When it comes to purchasing and consuming products normally associated with feelings of guilt, reducing someone's sense of free choice could ultimately boost their overall well-being.”

In other words, people don’t need to have their arm twisted to enjoy a guilty pleasure, provided somebody else is making the choice for them.

The researchers say that companies that sell products considered indulgent, such as chocolate cake, can use this information to entice consumers by making them feel less responsible for their actions.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Young Caregivers Could Use Some Help Themselves

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Some youngsters can’t escape certain responsibilities at home, such as caring for a family member with either physical or mental problems. According to University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, at least 1.3 million children and teens are saddled with this burden.

As much as their dedication is admirable, it can also take a heavy toll by putting them at a disadvantage in school.

In a unique study of this phenomenon, Dr. Julia Belkowitz and other researchers examined the work done by young caregivers, median age 12, in Palm Beach County, Florida. Nearly two-thirds were girls and the rest were boys.

Although the caregivers and those they cared for differed slightly on the time spent helping at home, it was well over a dozen hours weekly. The tasks were numerous, including feeding, dressing, bathing, toilet care, doling out medications and offering company and emotional support.

Belkowitz says the study is useful in bringing to the light the important work performed by young caregivers and how all the time spent at home can be a detriment to their education and social lives.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Calm Mealtimes Improve Children's Eating Habits

BananaStock/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Keeping it calm at dinnertime can help kids keep off unwanted weight.

Jerica Berge, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota, says that when parents make meals pleasant experiences and use them to get to know their children better, the young ones will react and subsequently, eat healthier.

Berge and her team conducted their study by having 120 families use iPads to make video recordings of their mealtimes.

Right off the bat, the researchers noted that meals where the youngsters were overweight often tended to be chaotic affairs that were generally several minutes shorter than meals involving normal-weight kids.

Families with overweight children also ate more often outside the kitchen and when that happened, they consumed more food.  

Berge says that when parents offered encouragement to their children at meals, rather than lecture them, it had a more positive influence on the youngsters’ eating habits.

Furthermore, in the homes of normal-weight kids, both parents were more often present at family meals than those where the kids had weight issues.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Dallas Hospital Slams Union's Allegations over Ebola Procedures

Stewart F. House/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- A Dallas hospital Thursday defended its processes and procedures after a nurses' union criticized it for alleged lapses in the treatment of a patient with Ebola who later died.

In the statement released Thursday morning, authorities with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said workers followed guidelines established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after patient Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola.

Duncan first arrived at the hospital Sept. 26, and was sent home with antibiotics and Tylenol before returning via ambulance days later.

Duncan died Oct. 8, and two of the nurses who treated him -- Nina Pham and Amber Vinson -- have since tested positive for the virus. Federal authorities are still trying to figure out how the nurses contracted Ebola, with officials blaming a breach in protocol for the situation.

According to the hospital’s statement in response to a release from National Nurses United, the patient’s samples were handled with sensitivity to avoid a potential contamination.

“All specimens were placed into closed specimens bags and placed inside a plastic carrier that travel through a pneumatic system. At no time did Mr. Duncan’s specimens leak or spill -- either from their bag or their carrier -- into the tube system,” the statement reads.

The hospital also addressed the union's allegations of improper protective gear at the facility, stating that hoods were ordered due to worker concerns that the skin on their neck was exposed -- and that nurses’ interactions with Duncan were consistent with CDC guidelines.

The response follows a previous statement by National Nurses United, the country’s largest nurses’ union, issued on behalf of several nurses at the hospital.

National Nurses United has not issued a response to the hospital’s latest statement.

Earlier, the hospital said that it mishandled Duncan's case by originally sending him home even after he had a fever and said he was from Liberia.

"Unfortunately, in our initial treatment of Mr. Duncan, despite our best intentions and a highly skilled medical team, we made mistakes," Dr. Daniel Varga, the chief clinical officer for Texas Health Services, said in written testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "We did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. We are deeply sorry."

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Union Demands Obama Take Action to Protect Nurses from Ebola

Zoonar/Thinkstock(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- The nation's largest nurses’ union called upon President Obama Wednesday to use his executive authority to make hospitals nationwide follow the same protocol in treating Ebola patients as Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, which specializes in dealing with patients infected with the deadly virus.

The demand by the National Nurses United during a conference call followed on the heels of complaints by nurses from Texas Health Presbyterian Health Hospital in Dallas that no procedures were in place when Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted to the facility after being diagnosed with Ebola.

Duncan died on Oct. 8 but not before he exposed dozens of health care workers at the hospital to the virus that has ravaged West Africa. Two nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian have tested positive for Ebola.

The NNU reiterated the nurses' criticisms Wednesday that included leaving Duncan alone with patients before he was put in isolation; not giving nurses the proper protective gear; failure to dispense with Ebola contaminated waste; and improperly sending Duncan's samples through a pneumatic tube system.

As a result, the NNU said the president should make certain that all hospitals to follow the guidelines used at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, which has treated two Ebola patients so far. It is just one of four facilities that are specifically designed to do so.

All nurses must wear hazmat suits that meet high standards when treating Ebola patients, the NNU said, because they are "our first line of defense."

In a response, Wendell Watson, a spokesman for the Dallas Hospital said that, "patient and employee safety is our greatest priority and we take compliance very seriously. We have numerous measures in place to provide a safe working environment, including mandatory annual training and a 24-7 hotline and other mechanisms that allow for anonymous reporting. Our nursing staff is committed to providing quality, compassionate care, as we have always known, and as the world has seen firsthand in recent days. We will continue to review and respond to any concerns raised by our nurses and all employees."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Texas Hospital, Frontier Airlines Take Cautionary Steps to Prevent Further Transmission of Ebola

Will Montgomery(DALLAS) -- After a second health care worker at a Dallas hospital was found to be infected with the Ebola virus after treating Thomas Eric Duncan, both Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and Frontier Airlines -- the airline on which the worker flew to Ohio over the weekend -- have taken steps to prevent further transmission of the disease.

"With a second one of our health care workers now infected with the Ebola virus despite following recommended protection procedures, Texas Health Dallas is offering a room to any of our impacted employees who would like to stay here to avoid even the remote possibility of any potential exposure to family, friends and the broader public," a hospital statement read. "We are doing this for our employees' peace of mind and comfort," the statement read, noting that "this is not a medical recommendation."

The hospital also reminded employees that they are not contagious "unless and until" they show symptoms of the disease. Still, the hospital asked all potentially affected employees "to be the good citizens that we know they are by avoiding using public transportation or engaging in any activities that could potentially put others at risk."

Frontier Airlines CEO David Siegel sent a letter to employees providing further details after it was determined that the nurse, Amber Vinson, had flown on one of their flights to Cleveland on Oct. 10 and returned to Dallas on Oct. 13.

Siegel says the airline was informed that the woman was a passenger on one of their flights on Wednesday, and that they had provided the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with customer contact information, removed the plane in question from service and reached out to customers independently of the CDC.

In the letter, Spiegel notes that on Wednesday afternoon, the CDC informed the airline that Vinson could have been symptomatic earlier than initially believed -- "including the possibility of possessing symptoms while onboard the flight." CDC spokesperson Tom Skinner told ABC News, however, that Vinson was not considered contagious at the time of the flight and that the only symptom she exhibited at the time was a fever.

While the plane was cleaned multiple times, the company opted to keep the plain out of service and provide a fourth cleaning since Vinson was onboard. Seat covers and carpets surrounding the area where Vinson sat will be removed.

Additionally, Frontier has placed six crew members on paid leave for 21 days "out of an abundance of caution," even though "CDC guidance...stated that our flight crews were safe to fly."

Vinson was transported to Emory University Hospital on Wednesday, one of two with specialized isolation units which have successfully treated Ebola patients.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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