The Texas hospital system that treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan said Thursday that it wanted to "correct some misconceptions" over the care of the Liberian national who died Wednesday.
"Our care team provided Mr. Duncan with the same high level of attention and care that would be given any patient, regardless of nationality or ability to pay for care," read a statement from Texas Health Resources, which includes Texas Health Presbyterian, where Duncan was treated. "In this case that included a four-hour evaluation and numerous tests. We have a long history of treating a multicultural community in this area."
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price had criticized the hospital's preparedness to treat to Duncan, who first went to the hospital Sept. 26 and was sent home with antibiotics after saying he had been in Liberia. Price called the facility "a boutique hospital next to a little Ellis Island" -- referring to the nearby neighborhood where many immigrants live. “If you don’t have insurance, you’re not going to get treated. That’s the elephant in the room," Price said.
Some of Duncan's family members had questioned why he didn't receive the same experimental treatments that other Ebola patients in the United States had received. “We want him to live,” Mawhen Jallah, the daughter of Duncan’s girlfriend, Louise Troh, had said. “So we want the drug the other people used to get saved if they have it.”
Americans Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol had both received the experimental drug ZMapp. American physician Rick Sacra received a convalescent serum from blood donated by Brantly. They all survived. Brantly has donated blood for a similar treatment to be given to NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo in Nebraska.
According to the hospital, ZMapp wasn't given to Duncan because it hasn't been available since Aug. 12. Instead, Duncan was given an experimental treatment, the antiviral drug Brincidofovir, on Saturday, many days after he was put into isolation.
"After consulting with experts across the country, the CDC, and the FDA, the investigative drug was administered as soon as his physicians determined that his condition warranted it, and as soon as it could be obtained," the hospital said. "Mr. Duncan was the first Ebola patient to receive this drug."
Troh and other family members had asked why doctors waited four days to treat Duncan with an experimental drug when another patient who had been successfully treated for the virus in the United States seemed to have received drug treatments "immediately."
"Before the drug treatment was started she was very anxious because she felt like nothing positive was being done for him," said Troh's pastor, George Mason, who was with Troh when she learned of Duncan's death. "And it's very difficult to hear news stories about others who have come with the Ebola virus and are treated immediately with a certain drug treatment. And to think that Duncan was there at the hospital and nothing was being done, it seemed unfair to her."
The Texas hospital said that serum treatment that Mukpo and Sacra received wasn't an option for Duncan because he had an incompatible blood type with the serum donors.
Unlike Duncan, other Ebola patients in the United States had been brought over from Africa for treatment with the knowledge that they had disease. They were taken to hospitals with biocontainment units. More than 50 people were on the team that treated Duncan, with a 24-bed intensive care unit dedicated to his case, according to the hospital.
"The nurses, doctors, and team who cared for him, as well as the entire Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas community, grieve the loss of Mr. Duncan," the hospital statement read.
Abby Phillip contributed to this report.