A PIH Clinician treats an Ebola patient (photo courtesy of Partners in Health)
A clinician working with Partners in Health was evacuated to the US from Sierra Leone after developing Ebola virus disease. The patient is currently being treated at the National Institutes of Health, and is at present in critical condition. Early in infection this clinician was treated/attended by twelve of his or her colleagues resulting in their exposure to Ebola, and they were similarly evacuated to the US and remain in quarantine (note, not isolation) in Nebraska, Maryland, and Atlanta. One contact in Omaha showed clinical signs Monday and was promptly isolated; however, that patient has since recovered and has thus far tested negative for Ebola.
There is a subtle, unspoken victory here that warrants a celebration of sorts. I looked this morning on CNN for an update on this patient's condition, and could not find one. Similarly, ABC News had not written about this case for 3 days. In October, this would not have been the case. In October, there were loud cries for the blocking of Ebola treatment of American citizens in the US. Among my least favorite descriptors - "those people" - was frequently shouted. No one is shouting now. No one is being vilified. No one doubts that this patient, who can only be described as selfless and heroic for how s/he became infected, deserves to come home and receive medical care. I take this to mean that we as a society have learned. We have come to realize that no one was being lied to; no one was promising safety where there was imminent danger. I take it also to me that we as a profession are a small step closer to regaining some trust.
May you be well soon, NIH Patient. Thank you for your service. UPDATE: On April 9, 2015, the NIH Patient was released from the hospital, free of Ebola. Victory!