WELLNESS
10/16/2014 09:27 am ET Updated Oct 16, 2014

Texas Hospital Denies Nurses' Allegations Of Ebola Carelessness

WASHINGTON -- The Texas hospital where one man died of Ebola and two nurses got infected denied Thursday that it failed to follow correct protocol in dealing with the initial patient, Thomas Eric Duncan.

"The assertions do not reflect actual facts learned from the medical record and interactions with clinical caregivers," Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas said in a statement.

The statement was a response to charges by National Nurses United, the largest nurses union in the U.S., which alleged Tuesday that the hospital didn't provide adequate training or correct equipment after Duncan arrived there last month with Ebola symptoms.

"No one knew what the protocols were or were able to verify what kind of personal protective equipment should be worn and there was no training," the union said, citing nurses at the hospital familiar with the case. "The suits they were given still exposed their necks, the part closest to their face and mouth. They had suits with booties and hoods, three pairs of gloves, no tape."

In its statement, Texas Health Presbyterian doesn't deny that it initially provided nurses with protective equipment that exposed their necks, but the hospital claims the gear followed protocol from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Staff had shoe covers, face shields were required, and an N-95 mask was optional -- again, consistent with the CDC guidelines at the time," the statement says. "When the CDC issued updates, as they did with leg covers, we followed their guidelines."

The hospital also denied the nurses' allegation that hazardous waste was "piled to the ceiling," claiming it was stored safely.

National Nurses United also said that Duncan, who died from the deadly virus last week, "was left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area where other patients were present."

While Texas Health Presbyterian has been criticized because it initially sent Duncan home, it denies that he was allowed to wait with other patients once he returned via ambulance. "He was moved directly to a private room and placed in isolation," the statement said.

Asked Wednesday about the nurses' allegations by The Huffington Post, CDC director Tom Frieden said only that the agency is working closely with the hospital.

"We have staff there around the clock," Frieden said. "There are intensive efforts underway to train and retrain and supervise the staff."

Frieden also said the second nurse who became infected, Amber Vinson, should not have boarded a commercial flight earlier this week, though several news reports Wednesday evening said Vinson had obtained the agency's permission to fly.

Vinson and fellow nurse Nina Pham are the first confirmed cases of Ebola contracted within the United States. The disease, which spreads only though bodily fluids, has infected more than 8,000 people in West Africa. More than 4,000 have died.

HuffPost readers: Do you work at Texas Health Presbyterian? Tell us what's going on -- email arthur@huffingtonpost.com. Please include your phone number if you're willing to be interviewed. Anonymity guaranteed.

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