DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Ebola survivor Nina Pham said Monday in a statement as she filed a lawsuit against her employer she felt she was “left with no choice but to turn to the courts for help.”
Four months after being discharged Ebola free from National Institute of Health in Maryland, the 26-year-old Dallas nurse is still searching for answers and hopes this lawsuit will “uncover the truth of what happened.”
The 36-page lawsuit filed in Dallas County claims Texas Health Resources, the parent company of Presbyterian Hospital, was negligent in failing to recognize the likelihood of the Ebola virus coming to its hospitals and for failing to develop procedures on how to care of a patient with the virus.
The lawsuit also claims Texas Health Resources violated Pham’s privacy and without her permission or prior knowledge used her as a “PR pawn”.
In a section of the lawsuit titled “THR (Texas Health Resources) ambushes Nina on video”, the lawsuit refers to a video taken by one of her physicians of Pham lying in her hospital bed shortly after she tested for Ebola.
According to the lawsuit, the physicians tried to get Pham to “say good things about Presbyterian” and then THR “edited the video to make it look as good as possible for THR.”
The video was then posted on YouTube without Pham’s permission, according the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states, “THR quickly learned that Nina and her dog Bentley had enormous public support and sympathy. So THR began trying to use Nina as a PR tool to save its plummeting image.”
Texas Health Resources’ spokesman Wendell Watson issued the following statement on Monday:
“Nina Pham served very bravely during a most difficult time as we all struggled to deal with the first case of Ebola to arrive in a U.S. hospital’s emergency room. Texas Health Resources has a strong culture of caring and compassion, and we view all our employees as part of our family. That’s why we have continued to support Nina both during and after her illness, and it’s why she is still a member of our team. As distressing as the lawsuit is to us, we remain optimistic that we can resolve this matter with Nina.”
Pham was the dayside primary nurse for Eric Duncan, the first person in the United States diagnosed with Ebola. She spent 12 to 14 hours a day treating Duncan.
Then just a few days after Duncan died, she tested positive for Ebola.
Aldous said Pham was never provided any training on how to handle a patient with Ebola and that the hospital failed to have proper procedures in place.
Aldous added it wasn’t until Pham’s third day of treating Duncan that she was provided a hazmat suit. Prior to that Pham used double gloves, double gowns, and a face shield.
In October in front of Congress, Texas Health Resources Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Daniel Varga admitted the CDC sent the hospital an email bulletin about Ebola protection. This was prior to Duncan’s arrival. Varga acknowledge to Congress more focused training was needed.
Pham, still employed and receiving a paycheck from Texas Health Resources, has not returned to work.
She continues to experience fatigue, body aches, and recently started losing her hair, according to her attorney.
Aldous said it’s unclear if these side effects are the result of having Ebola or the four experimental drugs she was given during her treatment.
“She wants answers,” Aldous said. “She wants transparency.”
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