The story about the woman who was sick at a Pentagon parking lot and suspected of being an Ebola victim has almost disappeared down the memory hole. It was all a mix-up. Forget it, Jake. It's Ebolatown.
I had, and still have, questions. Previously I asked, "Why was she not admitted to the Virginia Hospital Center ... and admitted to Fairfax Inova? Did VHC have no vacancies for potential Ebola patients?"
Today we learn, from a site called ARL Now (the ARL stands for Arlington county, I presume):
The explanation was also reported on the news at WMAL, Washington's conservative talk radio station.Virginia Hospital Center refused to admit the potential Ebola patient from the Pentagon on Friday, according to county officials, despite the hospital saying two weeks earlier that it was ready to handle such patients.
Responding to an inquiry from ARLnow.com today, the Arlington County Fire Department confirmed reports that VHC refused the woman — who at the time was thought to potentially have the deadly Ebola virus — when medics brought her to the hospital. She never left the ambulance.
If VHC was unable to deal effectively with an Ebola case, and Fairfax Inova was, I can't blame VHC for sending her on -- after all, meeting the patient's needs comes first. According to the ARLnow story, though: "Earlier this month ... VHC told TV station WUSA 9 that it was ready to deal with potential Ebola patients."
You also have to factor in the two weeks ago VHC was following the CDC protocols, which seem to have been inadequate in Dallas. Maybe VHC genuinely thought it was prepared earlier, and now believed it wasn't. On the other hand, it would have been a crushing blow to VHC's "business" to have a patient who turned out to have Ebola virus.
The article added:
Arlington County officials also have confirmed that the patient had not traveled to West Africa, as she allegedly first told authorities. In fact, she had not left the country at all, the county said, and had no contact with other potentially infected people.Who investigated the woman's story? Why would she claim to have been in Sierra Leone? She was reported to work at a Washington public relations agency, so chances are she was not psychotic.
“She had stated that she had traveled to Sierra Leone at the scene and did exhibit symptoms consistent with Ebola, so responders took all appropriate steps,” said Diana Sun, Arlington County’s Director of Communications. “There was an investigative process that went beyond Arlington. During the course of this, people close to the patient were interviewed and stated that she had not left the country. The patient herself, later in the afternoon, recanted her story and said that she had not left the country. When that last piece came in, public health officials felt confident in not pursuing” further testing for the Ebola virus.
There's probably nothing to this. And I'm not saying it's useful getting hysterical over possible Ebola cases. But that's no reason to take them casually, either. If you think you can handle it, look at the photos of Ebola victims at Google Images. Too much for me; I closed the page as soon as I found the photo of the virus at the head of this posting.