The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are creating an Ebola response team that will respond within hours to any U.S. hospital where there is a confirmed case of Ebola.
The team will include experts in personal protective equipment, laboratory science, infection control, experimental therapies, public education and environmental controls, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said as he made the announcement at a Tuesday news conference.
Rapid response crews will also assist with waste management and decontamination and will hit the ground in the affected area to make sure local health care workers can provide care safely.
Frieden added that he wished there had been a team in place when Thomas Duncan, the Ebola index patient in the United States, was diagnosed in Dallas two weeks ago.
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Had a robust response team been in place, Frieden theorized that Dallas nurse Nina Pham, who cared for Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas until he died Oct. 8, might not have contracted the deadly virus.
“I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed. That might have prevented this infection,” Frieden said.
Since Duncan's diagnosis, the CDC has been advising the Dallas hospital, which has said it also underwent Ebola training before Duncan's arrival.
But Frieden described the new response team as having some of the world's leading experts in how to care for Ebola and protect health care workers from it. They would be charged with everything from examining how the isolation room is physically laid out, to what protective equipment health workers use, to waste management and decontamination.
If another case is diagnosed, "we will be there, hands-on, within hours," he said.
Pham was listed in good condition Tuesday afternoon. She received a transfusion of blood Sunday from Dr. Kent Brantly, the Fort Worth doctor who recovered from Ebola in Atlanta after contracting the virus while working as a missionary in Liberia.
Pham said Tuesday morning in a statement through Texas Health Presbyterian, where she worked and is being treated, that she was "doing well."
“I’m doing well and want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers. I am blessed by the support of family and friends and am blessed to be cared for by the best team of doctors and nurses in the world here at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas,” Pham said.
Additionally, Texas Health Resources CEO Barclay Berdan added, “The hearts and prayers of everyone at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas are with Nina Pham, and we are working tirelessly to help her in this courageous fight. The doctors and nurses involved with her treatment remain hopeful, and we ask for the prayers of the entire country.”