Gov. Rick Perry designated two Texas hospitals as Ebola treatment centers Tuesday to relieve the burden at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the Dallas facility that treated the country’s first Ebola patient and where two nurses were infected with the virus. One of the centers will be situated at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and the other will be set up at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
“In the event of another diagnosis, this facility will allow us to act quickly to limit the virus’ reach and give patients the care they need in an environment where health care workers are specially trained and equipped to deal with the unique requirements of this disease,” Perry said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have such talented and dedicated leaders here in north Texas, and at UTMB Galveston, who are willing to step forward during a time of need.”
Perry’s plan is part of his Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, which he set up to protect health care workers and the public from the spread of diseases after the case of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who was the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. He died earlier this month at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, and two nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, contracted the disease from Duncan.
Perry and a Dallas County judge said the Ebola treatment centers will ease the workload of staff at Texas Health Presbyterian, which handled Duncan’s case. “That hospital has been on the front line,” Perry said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “They have paid a heavy price.”
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins called the doctors and nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian “our hometown health care heroes.” “They are tired. … It would be inhumane if … they were forced into continuing,” he said.