The family of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola patient from Dallas, TX that passed away Wednesday, claims that he might’ve stood a chance had he been white. They claim that the hospital treatment was different because of his race and social class, pointing to his lack of insurance as a factor in his initial release from the hospital. From Mediaite:
Weeks had previously said the Texas hospital that treated Duncan was negligent in its care because Duncan was initially sent away from the hospital with only antibiotics, despite having some symptoms of Ebola.
“Had that been another name, you know, or another color, he would probably be living today and he would have survived it,” Weeks told CNN. “And that’s what’s really hurting me the most is because they treated him the way they did because of the color of his skin, and that’s very upsetting and disturbing, and know that you stand a chance if you’re white, but you don’t if you’re black.”
Duncan’s family had been raising questions since the day he passed, even catching the attention of Geraldo Rivera who ran with the race issue on Fox News this past Thursday. The hospital addressed their treatment of Duncan in a statement Friday:
In a statement released after Duncan’s death, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas spokesman Wendell Watson wrote that the hospital would like to “correct some misconceptions” about what occurred during Duncan’s initial visit to its emergency room on Sept. 25. The statement specifically addressed allegations that the hospital didn’t pay enough attention to Duncan because he was from another country and may not have had insurance.
“Our team provided Mr. Duncan with the same high level of attention and care that would be given any patient, regardless of nationality or ability to pay for care,” a statement said Thursday. “We have a long history of treating a multicultural community in this area.”
The hospital also announced Friday it had changed its patient intake process to improve its screening for Ebola, and that it would make its staff available to talk to other hospitals that may have such patients. (via)
Do I believe there is a racial conspiracy in Ebola treatment? No. There are plenty of questionable actions based solely on race in this country, but I don’t think medical treatment in the midst of a heightened situation is connected to it. I would lean closer to his lack of insurance as a factor and a selection of hospital misjudgment.
The problem is you can’t prove or disprove that it isn’t a racial issue. It looks bad at a quick glance and that’s all a lot of folks will give an issue. The only true, clear fact here is that someone has died from Ebloa in this country and the spread is possible outside of West Africa. We shouldn’t panic, but obvious care needs to be taken to prevent another death.