President Bush Meets Nurse Amber Vinson As Ebola Monitoring Period Ends In Dallas

Nov 7, 2014

The Ebola monitoring period in Dallas has come to an end. The last person who had contact with the three Dallas Ebola patients was cleared from twice-daily monitoring late Friday afternoon, the Texas Department of State Health Services said.

The last person being monitored was a worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas who handled medical waste Oct. 17, the state health department said.

Those who had contact with Ebola patients were being monitored for 21 days, the longest incubation period for Ebola.

No additional cases of Ebola have been diagnosed in Texas.

On Friday afternoon, former President George W. Bush visited Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where the three Ebola patients were treated.

During his hospital visit, Bush met Amber Vinson, one of the nurses who became infected with Ebola.

"As someone who has gone to Presbyterian hospital for care myself, I know it is a dedicated, professional and caring place, and I’m confident it is doing what is necessary to reaffirm the community’s trust," Bush said.

The first Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, traveled from Liberia to Dallas in late September. He was diagnosed with Ebola on Sept. 30. Duncan died in October.

Vinson and Nina Pham, the other Presbyterian nurse who treated Duncan, were infected with Ebola. Both nurses have recovered and have been declared free of Ebola.

A total of 177 people had been monitored for Ebola in North Texas – they include health care workers, household contacts and community members. They either were in contact with the three Ebola patients or handled specimens or medical waste.

“We’re happy to reach this milestone, but our guard stays up,” Dr. David Lakey said in a statement. He’s the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. “We reached this point through teamwork and meticulous monitoring, and we’ll continue to be vigilant to protect Texas from Ebola.”

State officials have also cleared the people who were being monitored in Texas because they were passengers on one of the flights that carried Vinson before she was diagnosed with Ebola.

On Thursday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement: “Tomorrow, Thanksgiving comes early to Dallas County because tomorrow we are Ebola-free. It’s a time to reflect on the sacrifices of our hometown healthcare heroes and the city, county, and school district employees that worked so hard, along with our state and federal partners, to keep us safe during the Ebola crisis."

Barclay Berdan, CEO of Texas Health Resources, sent a message Friday morning to Presbyterian Hospital employees.

"We emerge from this experience both humbled and empowered with a new strength of purpose," he wrote. "We are committed to using what we have learned to advance our mission and vision in the communities we are privileged to serve." 

Texas health commissioner talks with KERA

Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the state health department, talked with KERA this week and reflected on several weeks of Ebola developments. 

"Your plans are not going to be perfect and you need to accept that and be willing to change your plan in order to meet the challenge that you face on the ground," Lakey told KERA.

Read and listen to the conversation here.

Read President Bush's remarks

“The last five weeks have been a trying time for the city and residents of Dallas and especially the people of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas," Former President George W. Bush said. "I appreciate the way the hospital and its professionals are sharing lessons learned in a way that helps the broader United States health care community respond to this terrible virus. As someone who has gone to Presbyterian hospital for care myself, I know it is a dedicated, professional and caring place, and I’m confident it is doing what is necessary to reaffirm the community’s trust.”

Read the full statement from Texas Health Resources

Here's the message Barclay Berdan, CEO of Texas Health Resources, sent to employees:

Today, the monitoring period for those who participated in the care of our patients with Ebola Virus Disease ends.  All of our caregivers and other employees related to the events of the last six weeks, along with their friends and loved ones in the community, are formally cleared of risk. 

We are grateful that two caregivers who shared the fight against this insidious virus are healthy. These two courageous nurses, and so many others, put the needs of a patient first and valiantly worked to save the life of a man who faced, and ultimately lost, his battle with this disease. Today we remember and honor him, and his family remains in our hearts and prayers.

We emerge from this experience both humbled and empowered with a new strength of purpose.  We are committed to using what we have learned to advance our mission and vision in the communities we are privileged to serve. We will continue to share our learnings with the healthcare community nationwide, and we hope our experience will also help those in the global community who are working so hard to beat this terrible disease in West Africa. 

Finally, we are thankful for our community, whose support continues to fortify us as it has for nearly 50 years. The confidence placed in us even as we face challenges is heartening, and we pledge to reaffirm that trust as we move forward.

Ebola In Dallas: A Timeline

Here's a look at some of the main events over the past several weeks. Hover over the right-hand side of the timeline to advance it.