Patients return to Dallas hospital where Ebola hit

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DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas hospital where a man died of Ebola and two nurses were infected with the disease said Friday that its revenues have returned to what they were before the crisis and patient flow is almost there.

In a financial statement Friday, the parent company of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas said that from Dec. 1-15, emergency room visits at the hospital were down by about 4 percent and the daily number of patients was down about 2 percent compared to the first nine months of 2014. That contrasts with the month of October, shortly after Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola patient who died, was admitted. During that period, the hospital saw a drop in ER visits of about 49 percent and a drop in patients of about 22 percent.

The hospital in October also saw a revenue drop of about 25 percent, or about $12 million. The hospital notes that from Oct. 12-20, the hospital's emergency department wasn't accepting patients by ambulance, which was a primary factor in the revenue drop.

"The patients have been coming back. The support of the community is very gratifying to all of us," said hospital spokesman Wendell Watson, adding that the hospital "has been providing quality care to this community for 50 years and the reputation of the hospital and the community's good feelings have paid off."

Surgeries are also back to the same level as before the crisis, after being down about 24 percent for October.

Duncan, who had traveled to Dallas from Ebola-ravaged Liberia, was admitted to the hospital on Sept. 28 and died on Oct. 8. The drops in revenue and patients came as the hospital faced criticism for mistakes that included allowing Duncan to leave its emergency room Sept. 26 after he came in on his own with a fever and other Ebola symptoms.

After returning two days later by ambulance, Duncan was admitted and later diagnosed with the virus.

Two nurses who treated him also became infected. They were eventually transferred to other hospitals for treatment and recovered.

In addition to the revenues lost, the hospital spent about $6 million in categories that included caring for patients, buying supplies, decontamination, legal and additional staffing and support. Watson said the $6 million includes a settlement with Duncan's family, the terms of which have not been disclosed.

Parent company Texas Health Resources didn't see a decline in patients or revenue at its other hospitals and, as a whole, hasn't been "materially impacted by this event," the statement said.

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