Nurse With Ebola Appears on Camera for 1st Time

Nina Pham is seen in this undated handout photo provided by her family.PlayCourtesy Pham Family
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Nina Pham, the first of two nurses to contract Ebola in the United States, joked with her physician before traveling to the National Institutes of Health clinical center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Gary Weinstein recorded his conversation with Pham, 26, before she left Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas Thursday. It was her first appearance on camera since her diagnosis.

"Thanks for getting well. Thanks for being part of the volunteer team," Weinstein told Pham. "We're really proud of you."

"Come to Maryland, everybody," she said.

Pham contracted Ebola while treating Thomas Eric Duncan at the Dallas hospital. She was diagnosed Sunday.

Duncan, a Liberian national, became the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States Sept. 30. He died on Oct. 8.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital requested that Pham be moved to the Special Clinical Studies Unit of the NIH Clinical Center, according to a statement from the NIH. She arrived there late Thursday.

"She will receive state-of-the-art care in this high-level containment facility, which is one of a small number of such facilities in the United States," according to the statement. "The unit staff is trained in strict infection control practices optimized to prevent spread of potentially transmissible agents such as Ebola."

The Dallas hospital asked to move Pham because the Ebola situation left it short-staffed, the hospital said in a statement.

PHOTO: Ebola patient Nina Pham will be treated in the Special Clinical Studies Unit of the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.NIH
Ebola patient Nina Pham will be treated in the Special Clinical Studies Unit of the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

"With many of the medical professionals who would normally staff the intensive care unit sidelined for continuous monitoring, it is in the best interest of Nina, hospital employees, nurses, physicians and the community to give the hospital an opportunity to prepare for whatever comes next," the statement said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said the Bethesda isolation facility where Pham is headed has only two beds.

"She will occupy one of them,” Fauci said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden said the move would help the hospital deal with any other new patients and to carefully monitor the 50 health care workers from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, who might have been exposed to Ebola and need to be carefully monitored.

Another nurse who treated Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola Wednesday. Amber Vinson, 29, arrived at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Tuesday morning with a fever and was diagnosed with Ebola in the early hours of Wednesday morning. She was relocated to Emory University Hospital's isolation unit Wednesday night.

Earlier this week, Pham's and Vinson's co-workers accused the hospital of sloppy protocols and failing to train and equip them properly to handle Duncan, leaving them vulnerable to Ebola. They released a statement through the National Nurses' Union.

"Nurses had to interact with Mr. Duncan with whatever protective equipment was available, at a time when he had copious amounts of diarrhea and vomiting which produces a lot of contagious fluids," the statement reads.

The hospital has insisted it complied with safety protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.