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Learning From Ebola Mistakes, North Texas Hospitals Make Changes

Lauren Silverman
/
KERA News
Dr. Daniel Varga is chief clinical officer at Texas Health Resources.

A year after Ebola arrived in Dallas, it might seem like hospitals and clinics are back to normal – except for the leftover hand sanitizer pumps and the occasional sign warning about international travel.

But, underneath the surface, there are larger shifts in health care in how nurses and doctors work together, and how hospitals are preparing for whatever is the next Ebola.

That’s one of the many lessons learned after Dallas faced an unprecedented public health scare in the fall of 2014. KERA is exploring those lessons – and taking a deeper look into what happened last year – in a new series called Surviving Ebola.

Explore the KERA digital project here. There’s a timeline of Ebola-related events, voices of those most affected by the virus, and much more.

The first story in the series focuses on where Ebola began in the U.S. — the room at Texas Health Presbyterian’s emergency department where Thomas Eric Duncan lay sick with Ebola.

Even though it’s been one year since Duncan was in this room, the stigma is so strong the hospital doesn’t want to reveal the room number.

Once again, in the tug of war between fear and science, emotion pulls harder.

Dr. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer at Texas Health Resources, said even though staff was aware of Ebola in 2014, no one thought it would happen in Dallas.

“We believe we were very well attuned to the potential risk of Ebola, and that we had communicated that fairly aggressively,” Varga said. “What we didn’t do is train and simulate for that.”

Read the rest of the story here. And explore the rest of the Surviving Ebola series here.

Surviving Ebola, a one-hour KERA News special, airs Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. and Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. on KERA 90.1 FM.

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.