U.S. hospitals wary of caring for Ebola patients because of cost and stigma

Saturday, November 29, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Lena H. Sun and Brady Dennis
November 28, 2014

U.S. officials trying to set up a network of hospitals in this country to care for Ebola patients are running into reluctance from facilities worried about steep costs, unwanted attention and the possibility of scaring away other patients.

“They’re saying, ‘Look, we might be willing to do this, but we don’t want to be called an Ebola hospital. We don’t want people to be cancelling appointments left and right,’ ” said Michael Bell, director of laboratory safety at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The reticence, although perhaps not surprising, complicates government efforts to ensure that the country can effectively treat people with Ebola and contain possible outbreaks. Just a few facilities in the United States have special biocontainment units, which are ideal for treating Ebola, and they can handle only two or three patients at a time. And the case of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who was initially misdiagnosed at a Dallas hospital and died, shows how easily a community hospital can stumble.

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