At Hometown Church Of Ebola Nurse Nina Pham, Members Say They Aren't Afraid
Yesterday was the first Sunday at Our Lady of Fatima Church since Nina Pham, the first nurse to become infected with the Ebola virus, was transferred from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to Maryland for continued treatment.
Church attendance was slightly down at Sunday morning's mass.
This Vietnamese Catholic church off Lancaster in east Fort Worth is normally packed, but some stayed away, fearing direct contact with family members of Nina Pham.
“It’s public fear," said Nancy Nguyen, the church choir director. "A lot of people don’t have a medical background so they want to be safe, so I don’t blame them for that.”
In a traditional dress called ao dai, she waves her hands to direct church members in the usual hymns.
Nguyen says she’s not afraid of Ebola, and now that Pham’s been transferred to the National Institutes of Health, she’s even more confident that the 26-year-old will get better.
“She’s going to recover, definitely," Nguyen said. "Trust in God, trust in the medical field. They know what to do.”
Another church member, Tim Pham, no relation to Nina Pham, says he’s not concerned because Ebola is not an airborne disease.
“I believe in science," Pham said. "I believe in technology. I believe in America. You know, you gotta have faith.”
That was Rev. Jim Khoi’s message to the congregation, too.
He also reassured parishioners that the last time the family was in direct contact with Pham was in August -- two months ago.
“She doing well now in Maryland," Khoi said. "And she can walk, she can smile. She kind of improving.”
The reverend says he was very excited to see Pham laugh in a video released by Presbyterian last week.
“I’m very glad she can smile and joke. She’s very brave, very brave,” he says.
Dallas County’s emergency response chief, Judge Clay Jenkins, calls Pham and Amber Vinson, the other nurse with Ebola, "heroic" health care workers.
“This community needs to be supportive of our health care heroes who are going through a difficult time," Jenkins said. "There are a few people who are acting inappropriately. Let’s be helpful to everyone. Let’s treat our brothers and sisters as we’d want to be treated.”
On Monday, loved ones of Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan ended a 21-day quarantine. Pham and Vinson treated Duncan while he was at Texas Health Presbyterian. Duncan died Oct. 8. Louise Troh, Duncan’s fiancée, and her three family members have not become sick. In a statement, Troh said she continues to mourn the death of her beloved, and prays God will bring healing to all in the community.