NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ebola Blog: Nina Pham Ebola-Free And Returns Home To Texas

Nina Pham, the first infected nurse with Ebola in Dallas, is back home in North Texas. She arrived late Friday night at  Fort Worth's Meacham International Airport. Her family was there to greet her.

Pham was presented with scrubs signed with well-wishes from her colleagues at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. 

Pham has been declared Ebola-free.

Update, 3:45 p.m. Friday: The city of Dallas will work with Nina Pham to reunite her and her one-year-old dog, Bentley.

While Pham was being treated in Maryland, Dallas Animal Services has been caring for the King Cavalier Charles spaniel and updating the family daily. Bentley was tested earlier this week for the Ebola virus; results came back negative. He’ll be tested one more time before his 21-day quarantine ends on Nov. 1.

“I join all the citizens of Dallas in welcoming Nina back to the community, where we hope she’ll be able to resume her happy and healthy life as soon as possible,” Mayor Mike Rawlings said. “We are also happy to hear the positive prognosis for her colleague Amber Vinson and we look forward to welcoming Amber home soon too.”

Update, 12:52 p.m.: State and local officials congratulate Nina Pham

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says he thrilled for Nina Pham after the National Institutes of Health in Maryland announced she was free of the Ebola virus.

In a statement, Jenkins called her a "hometown healthcare hero":

"Nina has been through a lot and deserves private time to fully recuperate. I’m excited to welcome her home and I know Bentley will be glad to see her. Although Bentley remains under quarantine until the end of the month, Nina will be able to visit, hold and play with him tomorrow. I know that will be good for both of them. I’d also like to thank the staff at both Presbyterian Hospital and the National Institutes of Health for their care of Nina and for helping her return to North Texas Ebola free.”

Texas Health Commissioner Dr. David Lakey released his own statement and said medically, she should be able to resume a normal life. 

“Ms. Pham’s recovery is a testament to her perseverance in the face of the disease, the excellent care she has received and the support she had of so many here in Texas and across the nation," he said.  "Based on all of the clinical findings and lab tests, we are completely confident that she has cleared the virus and is of no risk to transmit the virus to others.”

Update, 11:27 a.m.: Recovered nurse Nina Pham thanks loved ones, asks for prayers for fellow colleague.

Nina Pham thanked her loved ones and the medical team who cared for her at a morning press conference at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.

“I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here,” Pham said. “I’d like to thank God, my family and friends. In this ordeal, I’ve put my trust in God and the medical team [here at NIH].”

She also thanked fellow Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly for donating plasma. She asked for prayers for her colleague, Amber Vinson, who’s also being treated for the Ebola virus at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Pham will be flying home today and has asked for privacy for her and her family.

“[Nina] is cleared of Ebola, let’s make that clear,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.

The institute tested Pham five times, and all tests came back negative for the virus.

He said NIH did not use any experimental drugs to treat Pham. He attributed her recovery to her youth, getting into intensive care early, and possibly the plasma that was donated to her by Brantly. However, he stressed that every Ebola patient was different, and more studies would need to be done on treating the virus.

As for Vinson, Emory Hospital has released a statement, saying tests no longer detect Ebola in her blood. The hospital does not have a discharge date for her yet. Her GoFundMe page has raised a little more than $13,000 for her medical costs.

In Dallas, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital says it has instituted new procedures for treatment of infectious diseases.

“As the first hospital to diagnose and treat Ebola on U.S. soil, we know we have seen and experienced what no other hospital has,” Texas Health Resources CEO Barclay Berdan said in a statement. “We know that sharing our expertise may help to save lives, and we are eager to help hospitals learn.”

The hospital says it is making the following changes:

Upgraded medical record software to clearly highlight travel risks – Medical record software will now include a robust screening tool specifically asking where a patient has recently travelled and highlights that information in red at the top of the medical record. New triage procedures initiated to quickly identify at-risk patients – Generally, within five minutes of entry, patients will be asked about travel history and the patient’s chief complaint. A triage procedure to move high-risk patients immediately from Emergency Department – High-risk patients will be taken to an isolation unit by a nurse in full protective gear – gloves, gown, shoe covers, face mask and face shield – or immediately taken to a hospital with an isolation unit. A final step for cleared patients – Thirty minutes prior to discharge, vital signs will be rechecked. If anything is abnormal, the physician will be notified. Increased emphasis on face-to-face communication – Nurses and doctors will increase face-to-face exchange of information so that they do not solely rely on electronic medical records.

Fauci praised Presbyterian for their care of Pham before she was transferred to NIH. The hospital has released the following statement:

“The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas family is thrilled that Nina Pham is Ebola-free and on her way home.  Her colleagues and friends eagerly look forward to welcoming her back.  Her courage and spirit, first in treating a critically ill Ebola patient and then in winning her own battle against the disease, has truly inspired all of us.”

10:11 a.m.: NIH officials to hold a press conference on Nina Pham

Officials at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland say Nina Pham, the nurse infected with Ebola, is free of the virus. 

She was one of the nurses who treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan when he arrived at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sept. 28. Pham later tested positive for the virus on Oct. 11, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the following day. Pham was moved to the NIH Clinical Center on Oct. 16, where she's been receiving treatment.  

Watch a video of her emotional send-off from Presbyterian Hospital:

Her GoFundMe page has raised more than $89,000 to help with medical costs. Meanwhile, her dog, Bentley, has been in quarantine since she was diagnosed.Bentley tested negative for the Ebola virus

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.
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.