On Monday, Governor Rick Perry announced that UT Southwestern Medical Center, Methodist Health System and Parkland Hospital System would be partnering to open a dedicated Ebola treatment center at the Methodist Campus for Continuing Care in Richardson. With Wednesday's opening, we spoke to residents and workers near the center to gauge their reaction. The response? Meh.
"I don't see a problem with it. I don't really see any particular problem with having a treatment center in any particular location," says Wayne Krug, who works close to Methodist and lives close to Texas Health Presbyterian, where two nurses recently contracted Ebola after treating Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of the disease. "Having some hospital set up for it just as a precaution is a good idea. If you have something staffed up and ready to do it, it cuts down on problems in the future."
The lackadaisical attitude toward the new center is a sharp contrast to the response from some in the immediate days after Duncan's diagnosis. "I'd want to get away from these people if they came in. It's right here, in the middle school and high school. It's all around. And Presbyterian isn't far from here, that's where the guy died," said one worker at a Target close to Texas Health Presbyterian, just two weeks ago. "If I see somebody is sick, I'll want a mask. And I'd go to a manager and tell them to talk to the person. You've got to be careful. You just have to stay sanitized and just be careful."
"As a parent you can't do anything, it's like our hands are tied," said Cristina Garcia, a Vickery Meadow resident with kids in the DISD schools that were decontaminated, not long after Duncan's diagnosis. "It's too much to take in. We're wondering how much to freak out."
Which is why it's reasonable to suspect that at least some panic and paranoia would continue with the latest Ebola-related announcement. But with the removal of nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson to more well-equipped facilities in Atlanta and Bethesda, and the announcement that 61 people have been cleared from the Ebola watch list, much of our fear, too, has cleared. While there are still 116 people being monitored for symptoms, Dallasites are, it seems, returning to a state of pre-Ebola normalcy.
"It doesn't bother me," says Steven Flores, who works across the street from the center. "I know that Ebola is lethal, but it seems really overblown. It will still be around, but we won't hear about it as much."
Michael Cummings has lived close to the Methodist center for 30 years. He too is dismissive of any fears, as well as any potential financial downfalls of living so close to the center. "I do not have a problem with an Ebola center specialized for that hospital here," he says. "I think we've made some mistakes how we've handled the first few cases. But I think after these mistakes that we've done we'll be able to handle what else is thrown at us."
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