On Monday afternoon, dozens of nurses, doctors and other healthcare employees convened at the front entrance of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to discuss the recent controversy about how the hospital handled the Ebola outbreak. Despite definitive comments in support of the hospital, Presby's nurses remained tight-lipped on what actually happened during Thomas Eric Duncan's care.
"Today we want our community and our country to know that the nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian are so proud of our hospital and proud of what we do," said Dr. Cole Edmonson, chief nursing officer at the hospital. "There are a lot of questions being asked about what happened. And I can't answer those today. A number of reviews are underway."
Although three representatives for the nurses at the hospital spoke in support of Texas Health Presbyterian, little was said about allegations of poor management and treatment procedures. The nurses did not address a single question, nor did they mention fellow nurses' claims that the hospital's missteps led to nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson to become infected.
"A lot has been said about our hospital in the last few weeks," said nurse Chantea Irving, speaking about the hospital's sullied reputation. "We are a tight-knit group. We are a family, we are friends. It was very hard on us when Mr. Duncan died. But we also know it was difficult on his family as well."
Nurse Julie Boling, who has worked with the hospital for 17 years, conceded that some ways the hospital treated the virus could have been handled better. "Some things went wrong," she said. But, she noted, invoking the now-famed Twitter hashtag, "first and foremost I am Presby proud."
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The nurses' statements come as a part of the hospital's launch into a counter-campaign against criticisms. The move is not just a vanity fix to the hospital's damaged name: With diverted ambulatory traffic (which was just reinstated on Monday, after a week of significantly fewer ER patients), all non-essential workers sent home and what some believe to be a substantial drop in elective procedure traffic, the hospital is currently dealing with an exponential drop in revenue.
"This thing has just snowballed, without question," says Dr. Forney Fleming, a healthcare administration expert at UT-Dallas. "On the one hand, there's the cost of the medical care, and then the loss of traffic and revenue because of the people that now are reluctant to use their services for the time being. So both of those are going to show up on the bottom line."
Some question whether the hospital can even recover from the combination of continued financial losses and a hurt reputation. Doctors and nurses confirm that the hospital is eerily quiet, and that patient traffic has dropped.
Which is why, if they're not eager to explain their mistakes, Presbyterian's employees are willing to generally acknowledge their errors, while emphasizing their faith and support in the hospital. "We're proud of our hospital, proud of what we do, and proud of our nursing staff," said Edmonson. "We know we need to reaffirm the public's trust in us."