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Jenkins: Ebola Nurses Moved So Presbyterian Can Be Ready If There Are New Patients

Christina Ulsh
KERA News special contributor
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins records a long-distance interview with NPR’s Melissa Block for today’s All Things Considered in the KERA studios.";s:

The first nurse to contract Ebola is being moved to Maryland to make room at Texas Health Presbyterian in case there are other Ebola patients in Dallas, County Judge Clay Jenkins told KERA.

“The team at Presby is extremely concerned about the two family members [the nurses] who have Ebola and the 75 who are in that zone of risk,” Jenkins told KERA earlier this afternoon. “They’re tired. There’s a wealth of emotions. And to the extent that I can, I want them to be focused on the intake of potentially more people.”

Nina Pham, the first nurse to contract Ebola, is scheduled to be moved later today to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The second nurse to contract Ebola, Amber Joy Vinson, was transported Wednesday night to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

The 75 hospital workers in the "zone of risk" that Jenkins described were involved in Duncan’s care.

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, at an earlier press conference about the Dallas Ebola response.

“I want all of the Ebola emergency visits at Presbyterian -- because of the public fear in some places -- I don’t want anyone who needs to go to the emergency room to be reluctant to go to the emergency room,” Jenkins said. “So I’m directing all people with a West African travel history and a fever to be taken to Presby.”

He added: “My focus is on the contingencies if this gets to be a larger outbreak than we all hope and pray that it is.”

Jenkins was in the KERA studios for an interview with NPR. That conversation is scheduled to air later Thursday on “All Things Considered.”

“All Things Considered” airs from 4-6:30 p.m. on KERA 90.1 FM.

NPR's Melissa Block asked Jenkins why he didn't wear personal protective gear while visiting Thomas Eric Duncan's relatives.

"I wanted them to see me as a person and an equal and I wanted to see them as a person and an equal," Jenkins said. "I had to convince them to leave their house and go to a place they'd never seen before and I wanted to treat them with the same compassion that I would want Louise to treat my family member or me if my family were going through this."

Listen and read the interview here.

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.
Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.