DALLAS, March 1 (Reuters) – The first person infected with Ebola in the United States, nurse Nina Pham, said she was used for publicity purposes by her hospital, which also invaded her privacy and did not properly train her, the Dallas Morning News reported on Sunday.
Pham, 26, told the newspaper that chaos hit the Dallas hospital when it admitted Thomas Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States after he contracted it in Liberia. Nurses were ill prepared and received little guidance on how to treat Ebola or protect themselves.
“I wanted to believe that they would have my back and take care of me, but they just haven’t risen to the occasion,” Pham told The Dallas Morning News in an exclusive interview published in its Sunday edition.
Duncan was put into isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in late September and died less than two weeks later.
Pham, who became infected while treating him, later recovered and was welcomed in the Oval Office by President Barack Obama.
She is planning to sue the hospital, the paper said. The hospital has reached a settlement with Duncan’s family.
The hospital did not address details of Pham’s allegations. It said in statement: “Nina Pham bravely served Texas Health Dallas during a most difficult time. We continue to support and wish the best for her, and we remain optimistic that constructive dialog can resolve this matter.”
Pham said nurses initially did not wear hazmat suits when treating Duncan and went in with double gloves taped to double gowns, double booties and face shields. Pham said her neck area was exposed, the newspaper said.
Hazmat suits came a few days later but meanwhile, medical waste piled up in a hospital room because maintenance staff would not collect it.
“We were mopping floors with bleach and doing janitorial work and dealing with hazardous, lethal waste,” Pham told the paper.
Another nurse who treated Duncan, Amber Vinson, also became infected with Ebola and recovered.
Pham said the hospital did not respect her right to privacy. In one instance, she was videotaped speaking to a doctor and the video was released to the media. Pham said it was done without her permission.
Charla Aldous, Pham’s attorney told the paper the hospital “used Nina as a PR pawn.”
Pham said she is also experiencing symptoms such as body aches and high liver enzymes as a result of experimental medication she received.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz and Lisa Maria Garza; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)