Just shy of a year after he was admitted and diagnosed with the Ebola virus, Craig Spencer, MD, returned to HHC Bellevue Hospital Center on Oct. 20 to reunite with doctors, nurses and other medical staff. Spencer greeted and hugged staff who successfully cared for him while he was in isolation in Bellevue’s infectious diseases unit during the height of last year’s Ebola crisis, according to a news release.
“I am here today because of the brave and remarkable commitment of so many nurses, doctors and other team members from Bellevue Hospital,” Spencer, who to date is New York City’s only confirmed Ebola patient, said in the release. “My gratitude is as profound and intense as the day I left the hospital nearly one year ago, and I will undoubtedly be forever thankful.
“Although I have healed, many of the communities affected by the unprecedented Ebola epidemic have not. It is imperative that as a global community we do not forget or overlook their suffering and remain committed to helping rebuild these and other communities in the wake of this terrible epidemic.”
Laura Evans, MD, director of critical care and associate chief of medicine at Bellevue, was the lead physician on Spencer’s case. “A whole team of doctors, nurses, lab technologists and support staff all contributed to Dr. Spencer’s recovery,” Evans said in the release. “It’s good to get everyone together a year later to see how well he’s doing and to celebrate with him.”
Spencer arrived at HHC Bellevue and was diagnosed with the Ebola virus on Oct. 23, 2014. He was treated by a specially-trained team of experts and intensive care nurses. He left 19 days later, on Nov. 11, 2014, when doctors declared that he was healthy and able to be discharged from the hospital.
“Dr. Spencer’s case demonstrates that a large, public, urban hospital and healthcare system can safely and effectively treat an Ebola Virus Disease patient,” Bellevue COO William Hicks said in the release. “At the end of the day, it was excellent preparation and collaboration that led to the successful treatment of New York City’s only confirmed Ebola patient.”
Since July 2014, Bellevue has isolated and evaluated 17 patients under investigation for Ebola, triggering a strict set of practices and procedures including the use of personal protective equipment by staff and isolation of patients in a hospital unit that has been specifically equipped to treat patients suspected of having Ebola, according to the release.
In July, Bellevue was designated a National Ebola Education and Training Center in partnership with Emory University in Atlanta and Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb. Experts at Bellevue will work to ensure that healthcare providers throughout the country are prepared to safely identify, isolate, transport and treat patients with Ebola and other potential emerging threats, according to the release. Bellevue this year was also named a Regional Ebola and Special Pathogens Treatment Center, one of just nine national referral centers for patients with Ebola or other severe, highly infectious diseases.
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