UPDATED: Oct. 17, 2014 2:22 p.m.
DALLAS (WNEW/AP) — The first Dallas nurse to have contracted Ebola after treating an infected Liberian man was transferred late Thursday from a Dallas hospital to a specialized medical facility in Maryland.
The National Institutes of Health said in a statement that Nina Pham, 26, was being taken from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas to the NIH center in Bethesda, Maryland. The NIH facility has one of four isolation units in the United States.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday that Nina Pham’s condition is stable and she is resting comfortably at NIH.
“She’s not deteriorating,” he said. He said he couldn’t describe the reasons NIH doctors rated her status as “fair” without violating patient confidentiality, but he said she was very fatigued by the long journey and that such a condition “implies that she does still have some symptoms.”
However, he and Dr. Rick Davey, the deputy clinical director of the NIAID’s division of clinical research, painted a promising scene of Pham sitting up, eating and using her iPad.
“We fully intend to have this patient walk out of this hospital,” Fauci said.
NIH officials say five nurses are assigned to Pham at a time, and up to 20 nurses may work with her this week.
Pham arrived shortly before midnight Thursday and was admitted to the clinical studies unit. Doctors said her mother and sister are also now in the Washington area.
Pham is being treated by staff specializing in infectious disease and critical care. Workers are monitored as they put on and remove protective clothing and they limit the amount of time they spend in her room to prevent infection and reduce fatigue.
Pham was flown to Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick, Maryland, a small airport about 35 miles northwest of the NIH. State police, the city and the county are coordinating to ensure she has a quick trip to the hospital, Frederick City Police Lt. Clark Pennington said Thursday.
As Pham left the Dallas hospital in an ambulance about 6 p.m. Thursday, dozens of nurses cheered and waved signs bearing messages of affection and good wishes. She was taken to Dallas Love Field, where she boarded the same executive jet used to fly a co-worker to an Atlanta hospital on Wednesday. The jet took off shortly after 7 p.m. and arrived in Maryland around 10:30 p.m.
Before Pham left the hospital, she was visited by her treating physician, Dr. Gary Weinstein, who recorded his conversation with her before she was discharged.
Through some tears, she says “Come to Maryland. Everybody.” Dr. Weinstein replies with “Party. Party in Maryland.”
Hospital spokesman Wendell Watson said Pham’s transfer is necessary because numerous employees are being monitored for symptoms and aren’t available to work.
Pham will receive care from an NIH staff that specializes in infectious disease and critical care, according to the NIH statement.
Frederick Mayor Randy McClement told WNEW’s Chuck Carroll that the process for the U.S. doctor exposed to Ebola in Sierra Leone that landed at the Frederick Municipal Airport on Sept. 28 will be similar to the process for Pham when she arrives.
“There will be a specialized jet that will land here,” McClement says. “It will meet up with an ambulance from NIH, there will be a transfer from the jet to the ambulance and then the ambulance will head off to NIH.”
Citizens expressed their concerns of an Ebola patient arriving in Maryland to McClement.
“I have done everything I can to talk to every agency that has anything to touch to this with,” McClement says. “All safety precautions are being taken.”
A second nurse who tested positive, 29-year-old Amber Joy Vinson, has been transferred to a biohazard infectious disease center at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
Pham and Vinson were involved in providing care to Thomas Duncan, who died of Ebola last week at Texas Health Presbyterian.
They wore protective gear including face shields, hazardous materials suits and protective footwear as they inserted catheters, drew blood and dealt with his body fluids. Still, the two somehow contracted Ebola.
Federal health officials said Thursday they still don’t know how the nurses caught the virus from Duncan.
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