Patients avoiding Dallas hospital where Ebola hit

NOMAAN MERCHANT, Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas hospital where a man diagnosed with Ebola died and two nurses were infected with the virus has seen patients flee the hospital, with a more than 50 percent decline in visits to its emergency room since the crisis began.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas said in financial statements Wednesday that its revenue fell 25 percent in the first 20 days of October, a period that began shortly after Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted into the hospital with Ebola.

Visits to its emergency room were down 53 percent during that time, and its daily patient census fell 21 percent. Operating-room surgeries were also down 25 percent.

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The numbers reflect the serious concerns in North Texas about the hospital’s handling of Ebola. The hospital has been criticized for making repeated mistakes, including allowing Duncan to leave its emergency room Sept. 26 after he came on his own with a fever and other symptoms of Ebola.

Duncan returned two days later by ambulance and was diagnosed with Ebola. After he was admitted, two of its nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, became infected with the virus themselves. Pham and Vinson were transferred to other hospitals for treatment.

The hospital’s parent company, Texas Health Resources, remains profitable and has more than $3 billion cash on hand. It said in one filing that it has enough resources to weather any long-term damage.

The company also said it believes its insurance will cover any damages due to the Ebola cases, and that no lawsuits have been filed against Presbyterian Dallas.

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Presbyterian Dallas is responsible for about 17 percent of the chain’s revenue, according to Moody’s Investors Service.