Ebola Worries Focus Attention On Public Health Leaders; Administration Bolsters Its Response
With questions emerging about the handling of Ebola patients, a House subcommittee is holding a hearing that will feature testimony from CDC Director Tom Frieden and Dr. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer and senior executive vice president at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Meanwhile, scrutiny continues regarding hospitals' infection control capabilities, national containment plans and quarantine issues.
The New York Times: C.D.C. Director Becomes Face Of Nation’s Worry And Flawed Response
Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the nation’s top public health official, has always overcome obstacles. He stopped outbreaks of tuberculosis in New York City and made headway against the disease in India. He banned public smoking in New York when he was the city’s health commissioner. And at 49, he ascended to his dream job — director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. … Now, Dr. Frieden, 53, has been pitched into the biggest test of his career. He has become the face of the Obama administration's flawed response to Ebola in the United States, and on Thursday he is likely to face withering questions about his record during a congressional hearing. On his watch, two health workers in Dallas who were caring for a Liberian man with Ebola have become infected with the disease. And on Wednesday, health officials said the second worker had taken a flight shortly before she tested positive for Ebola, leaving officials scrambling to identify dozens of passengers (Tavernise, 10/15).
NPR: Top Dallas Hospital Official To Tell Lawmakers 'We Made Mistakes'
A top official from the hospital in Dallas where the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. was treated and two nurses who cared for him have become infected, will testify before the House today, where he's expected to acknowledge mistakes in the facility's handling of the situation. "We made mistakes," says Dr. Daniel Varga, the chief clinical officer with Texas Health Resources, which runs Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, in prepared testimony obtained by member station KERA (Neuman and McCallister, 10/16).
The Wall Street Journal: Federal Health Agency Reviews Nurses’ Allegations Of Mishandled Ebola Case
A federal health-care agency said Wednesday it was reviewing allegations raised by a nurses union that the Dallas hospital grappling with Ebola mishandled its first case, putting patients and health-care workers at risk. David Wright, deputy regional administrator for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Dallas, said it was "closely evaluating and reviewing" the allegations made by National Nurses United on behalf of what it said were an unnamed number of nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas (Frosch, 10/15).
The New York Times: Downfall For Hospital Where The Virus Spread
Some nurses donned layer after layer of protective garb but unknowingly raised their risk of exposure to the Ebola virus when taking the gear off. Some wore gowns that left their necks uncovered and haphazardly applied surgical tape to the bare spots. And it was two days after the Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted before personnel began wearing biohazard suits (Sack, 10/15).
USA Today: Ebola Raises Concerns Over Hospitals' Infection Controls
As public health authorities race to assess the U.S. medical system's ability to contain Ebola, the track record of the nation's hospitals in controlling other infections suggests a lot of them aren't prepared. From small, rural hospitals to sprawling urban medical centers, infection control has been a persistent and vexing problem in U.S. health care for decades (Eisler and Hoyer, 10/16).
WBUR: For Hospitals And Clinics: Insurance To Protect Against Losses From Ebola
A Boston-based insurance broker is rolling out a new policy for Ebola-related losses at hospitals and clinics across the country. How much money might hospitals lose during an Ebola-related quarantine? And will patients use hospitals that treat the virus? Phil Edmundson at William Gallagher Associates developed Ebola insurance to address these risks (Bebinger, 10/16).
Los Angeles Times: Obama Tells CDC He Wants Ebola 'SWAT Team' Ready To Go Anywhere
President Obama said Wednesday evening that he directed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create a "SWAT team" to be ready to deploy anywhere in the country to help local healthcare systems respond to any Ebola cases. … At the same time, Obama assured Americans once again that the risk of a widespread Ebola outbreak in the U.S. remains very low and that the best way to prevent its spread is to control the outbreak in West Africa (Hennessey and Levey, 10/15).
Los Angeles Times: As Second Nurse Is Infected With Ebola, Her Air Travel Heightens Fears
After weeks of assertions that U.S. hospitals were well-prepared for Ebola, the latest developments illuminated lapses on several fronts: at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where two nurses contracted Ebola while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian who died of the disease; at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which says it could have reacted more aggressively to Duncan's case; and with a public health system that has no way of preventing potentially contagious people from boarding public transportation, even if they know they may have been exposed to Ebola (Hennessy-Fiske, Mohan and Susman, 10/15).
The Washington Post: Health-Care Worker With Ebola Was Allowed To Fly Despite Slight Fever
The experts had warned that fighting Ebola is hard, and Wednesday’s drumbeat of bad news proved them correct. The day began with a bulletin about another health-care worker stricken with the deadly disease, and the news got worse with the revelation that she had flown with a slightly elevated temperature from Cleveland to Dallas on a crowded airliner barely 24 hours before her diagnosis (Berman, Sun and Achenbach, 10/15).
The Wall Street Journal: In Ebola Cases, New Focus On Power To Control Travel
The revelation that a second Texas health-care worker diagnosed with the Ebola virus flew from Dallas to Cleveland and back has raised a looming question: Why wasn’t she quarantined before boarding a plane? The answer lies in a layered health-care system that relies on close coordination between state, local and federal authorities to be effective in stopping disease, health-law experts said (Palazzolo, 10/15).
Politico: Ebola Gaffes Fuel Quarantine Questions
The startling news Wednesday that an Ebola-infected nurse flew from Cleveland to Dallas earlier this week unleashed a new round of fears about the virus’s spread in the U.S. and whether the government’s legal authority to contain the illness by limiting travel is up to the task. For nearly a decade, officials have been warning that the country’s quarantine regulations are woefully outdated and badly need revising. The George W. Bush administration proposed "critical updates" to enhance the government’s authority to detain passengers, but never pushed the changes through before the effort was abandoned under the Obama administration (Gerstein, 10/16).
Politico: Obama, Ebola And Optics
Optics, which Obama and his staff dismiss as never being much on their minds, always means a lot to this White House. Aides in the past have pointed out that any abrupt changes to Obama’s schedule have the potential to convey more of a crisis than may exist. But facing the risk of embarrassing juxtapositions of dying health care workers while Obama was out campaigning, that’s exactly what they did (Dovere, 10/15).
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker: The Absurd Claim That Only Republicans Are To Blame For Cuts To Ebola Research
This ad is simply a more extreme version of a new Democratic talking point — that GOP budget cuts have harmed the nation’s ability to handle the Ebola outbreak. It mixes statistics — the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "cut" $585 million (the ad offers no date range) — with disturbing images of the outbreak and various Republican leaders saying variations of the word "cut." A slightly more nuanced version of this theme was launched by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which in online advertising began to equate a congressional budget vote in 2011 with a vote for the House GOP budget in 2014 that supposedly protected special interests (Kessler, 10/15).