Nurse Amber Vinson was released from Emory University Hospital Tuesday after being declared free of Ebola. Vinson and fellow nurse Nina Pham were the two health care professionals at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, located in Dallas, who were stricken by the virus while treating Thomas Duncan, a Liberian man, who succumbed to the ailment on October 8.
Upon leaving the hospital, Vinson, surrounded by Emory nurses, doctors and friends, showed her tearful appreciation for her recovery. Vinson, admitted to Emory University Hospital, Atlanta Oct. 15, also expressed her gratitude to God and the staff that took care of her for 13 days, while she battled the lethal virus.She explained that as a nurse, she had the experience of dealing with a life-threatening illness.
Vinson’s recovery and Nina Pham’s discharge from a Maryland health facility this past Friday means that there is currently one case of Ebola in the United States. Dr. Craig Spencer is the only remaining patient in the United Sates receiving treatment for Ebola at this time. Vinson, President Obama and others, emphasized that the struggle with the fatal virus continues, despite her recovery.
Vinson, now Ebola free and discharged from the hospital, contracted the virus in the United States instead of Africa, unlike several previous healthcare professionals , who were in Africa when they became infected with Ebola. The diagnosis for Vinson came at a time of growing national fear that Ebola may proliferate in the Unites States, particularly after it became public knowledge that she had flown on two commercial aircraft following her treatment of Duncan. In spite of public fears, Dr. Bruce Ribner, an Emory University Hospital physician spokesman, stated that Vinson was completely free of her Ebola virus infection and she could be released to her life and community without the possibility of infecting anyone else.
Ebola is still a national concern, even though there have not been any new cases. There are debates as to whether or not individuals from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia should be allowed into the country. There are also debates concerning whether or not healthcare workers and other people arriving from Ebola plagued countries should be quarantined for 21 days after their arrival in this country.
Dr. Ribner stated that lessons learned from treating Ebola patients have allowed the hospital to manage fluids and electrolytes critical to patient survival. Patients needing dialysis can now successfully be treated, using what they have learned. Ribner also noted that building on this storehouse of information maybe helpful , but it is not the end of the virus. Ribner went on to say that we can only keep our country safe if we contain the epidemic in Africa.
While nurse Vinson is disease free, released from Emory University Hospital and returning to her life, the World Health Organization says, more than 10,000 suspected or confirmed Ebola cases have been reported in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Nearly 5,000 deaths have also been reported in those countries. These cases are only known cases, in an area where health care is not readily available and records are limited. Vinson survived with treatment received in the United States. In Africa, the World Health Organization says that the death rate since December is about 70 percent.
By Gerald Sowell