Nina Pham — the nurse who contracted ebola while caring for Thomas Duncan — will file a lawsuit against her former employer, Texas Health Resources, on Monday. The 26-year-old nurse became “the American face of Ebola,” as we watched her bravely fight the disease with grace and a positive attitude. At times, it seemed as though she was trying to ease America’s anxiety by assuring the public she was in good hands and good spirits. We even fell in love with her little dog, Bentley, that also had to be quarantined and observed for symptoms of ebola.
Pham’s attorney, Charla Aldous, tells Dallas Morning News in an exclusive interview that Texas Health took full advantage of that fact and “used Nina as a PR pawn.” She goes on to explain that just before Pham was transferred to NIH, it was documented in her records that she was in no condition to make end-of-life decisions. However, her frailness did not stop the hospital’s PR staff from trying to obtain a media statement about her love of Texas Health Presbyterian.
Pham says she clearly requested that no information regarding her or her condition be released. Those wishes were ignored throughout the ordeal. At one point, a doctor recorded her on video from her hospital room and released it to the public without her consent.
“I wanted to protect my privacy, and I asked several times… to put me as ‘no info’ or at least change my name to Jane Doe.”
A spokeswoman for Texas Health responded, but declined to discuss specific details.
“Nina Pham bravely served Texas Health Dallas during a most difficult time. We continue to support and wish the best for her, and we remain optimistic that constructive dialogue can resolve this matter.”
Pham feels the hospital failed her and her co-workers who cared for America’s first ebola patient, Thomas Duncan. She is seeking damages for physical pain and mental anguish, medical expenses, and loss of future earnings.
“I wanted to believe that they would have my back and take care of me, but they just haven’t risen to the occasion.”
While Nina Pham is clear of the ebola virus, she continues to suffer. Some of the lasting effects have been nightmares, body aches, and insomnia. She has also had some liver complications, and is worried about what the future holds both personally and professionally. She says she is not mentally or physically prepared to return to nursing at this time.
[Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]