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Ebola Blog: After Ebola Cases, Revenue Plunges 25 Percent At Presbyterian Hospital

[We will update this story throughout the day.] The financial impact of Ebola on Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas has been significant. Net revenue is down 25.6 percent – or $8.1 million -- in October compared to the first nine months of 2014, according to financial disclosure forms released Wednesday afternoon.

  • Daily visits from patients is down 21 percent to 337 in October from an average of 428 during the first nine months of 2014, according to forms submitted by Texas Health Resources, which operates Presbyterian.

  • Emergency room visits are down by 2,336 people – or 53 percent.

  • Operating room surgeries are down about 165 cases or 25 percent.

The October data is based on visits from Oct. 1 to Oct. 20.
“The negative financial impact experienced thus far at THD is primarily the result of the emergency department being placed on diversionary status from October 12 to October 20,” the disclosure said.

The emergency room had remained open for patients not arriving by ambulance. It returned to full operation at noon Monday.

"It is too early to predict what, if any, material or significant financial impact this situation will have on Texas Health Resources as a whole," the disclosure said.

On Sept. 25, Thomas Eric Duncan visited Presbyterian, complaining of illness. He was sent home. He returned to Presbyterian on Sept. 28 and was diagnosed with Ebola. In October, two Presbyterian nurses who treated Duncan became infected with Ebola. Duncan died Oct. 8. The two nurses were initially treated at Presbyterian, but were transferred to facilities in Maryland and Georgia.

Read the financial disclosure:

Following Ebola Cases, Revenue Plunges 25 Percent At Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital

Update, 4:50 p.m.: Presbyterian's emergency department fails to meet patient quality, safety benchmarks, AP reports

The Associated Press reports: The Dallas hospital that cared for the first U.S.-diagnosed Ebola patient has many strengths. But the man walked in through its seemingly weakest link: the emergency room.

According to its own data, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital met or exceeded 75 percent of federal benchmarks of care. But its emergency department failed to meet any of five national patient safety and quality benchmarks it reported.

Thomas Eric Duncan was initially misdiagnosed in Presbyterian's ER, where potential warning signs apparently went unnoticed. He was later readmitted and eventually died.

The benchmarks measure how long it takes for patients to be seen, admitted, or otherwise cared for in the ER. Presbyterian says wait times are "only one component of patient care and patient experience."

Others insist longer wait times point to larger issues.

Update, 4:42 p.m.: Officials still monitoring 108 people for Ebola symptoms

The number of people who are being monitored for Ebola symptoms has dropped to 108, officials announced Wednesday afternoon.

As of Wednesday, 66 people have completed their monitoring period.

Contacts have been monitored for 21 days.

“The number of people at possible risk for contracting Ebola is decreasing each day,” Dr. Lyle Peterson, a CDC official in Dallas, said in a statement. “Although we are not out of the woods yet, it is very encouraging we have not seen any other cases.”

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in the statement: “Working together we are winning the war on Ebola, and every day we are closer to successfully accomplishing our mission.”

More contacts will drop off the monitoring list in coming days. Monitoring should wrap up Nov. 6.

Ebola in Dallas: Number of People Being Monitored Drops to 108

Update, 4:02 p.m.: President Obama calls Presbyterian staff

Update, 2:45 p.m.: Louisiana temporary restraining order continues against incinerated belongings

A temporary restraining order in Louisiana will continue against disposing the ash from Thomas Eric Duncan’s incinerated belongings.

State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing while negotiations continue between Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator. A new hearing date is set for Nov. 5.

Caldwell sought to keep the soot from being brought to a Calcasieu Parish facility run by Chemical Waste Management. His office says it is exploring ways to let the state verify that disposal wouldn't be a health risk. Most of the items from the Vickery Meadow apartment Duncan stayed in were destroyed after a hazmat crew decontaminated the apartment. The CDC says the Ebola virus is destroyed by incineration.

The city of Dallas, Wilshire Baptist Church and private donors are helping Louise Troh, Duncan’s girlfriend, replace most of her personal belongings that were destroyed in the decontamination process.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Update, 11:17 a.m.: CDC announces new monitoring measures for travelers coming from West Africa

Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, announced new measures for travelers today. The agency will begin active, 21-day monitoring for any traveler who has come from Ebola-afflicted countries in West Africa.

The program will start on Oct. 27 in six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland and Georgia. According to Frieden, those states accounted for 70 percent of travelers coming from West African countries. He says the CDC will work with other state health departments as well.

The active monitoring is not a quarantine. Travelers coming back to the U.S. from those countries will take their temperature once a day. They’ll report this as well as any information regarding symptoms to a CDC official in-person or by telephone, email, or Skype. Frieden also says each traveler will receive a care kit, which will include a log to document monitoring times, a special thermometer, an ID card for health care providers, a symptom guide and instructions in the event of falling ill.

Travel restrictions would vary for those travelers, depending on the level of exposure to the virus, said Frieden.

Frieden emphasized that until the Ebola virus is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person. Until a person shows symptoms of Ebola, that individual is not contagious.

“We’d rather cast a wider net and err on the side of safety,” he said.

The monitoring program will continue until the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is over.

Frieden also updated on the status of the Dallas healthcare workers who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan and the two infected Texas Health Presbyterian nurses. The first group of workers who treated Duncan between Sept. 28 and Oct. 1 are on the last day of their 21-day monitoring period. None of those workers have shown symptoms of the Ebola virus. The workers who subsequently treated him until his death on Oct. 8 and those who cared for Nina Pham and Amber Vinson have not shown any symptoms either.

Update, 10:35 a.m.: The pet dog of Ebola-infected nurse tests negative for the virus

Dallas Animal Services collected samples on Monday from Bentley, the dog of Ebola-infected nurse Nina Pham, to be tested for the Ebola virus. So far, his test results show that he has tested negative for the virus.

Bentley has been in quarantine since Oct. 11. He was rescued from Pham’s apartment and has been residing at the Hensley Field Service Center since. Workers from Dallas Animal Services have been caring for Bentley, feeding and playing with the dog in protective gear. 

Bentley will be tested one more time for Ebola before he finishes his quarantine period. 

Not much is known on how the virus affects dogs. There's limited evidence that dogs can carry Ebola, but not show symptoms. It's not known whether infected dogs are contagious or if the virus lives in their feces and urine.

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
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.