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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Jesse Jackson Ups the Ante in|Ebola Patient’s Treatment

DALLAS (CN) - The man with the first domestic case of Ebola died this morning, the day after the Rev. Jesse Jackson and a Dallas County commissioner said the man may have been turned away by a Dallas hospital because he is black and lacks insurance.

Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas announced by email this morning that Thomas Eric Duncan died at 7:51 a.m.

Duncan, 42, had been in isolation in the hospital for 10 days.

Jackson led a prayer vigil Tuesday outside of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas with the family of Thomas Duncan, who arrived in Dallas from West Africa on Sept. 20 to get married.

Duncan became ill and was sent home from the Presbyterian on Sept. 26 with only antibiotics. He was admitted to the hospital two days later after developing symptoms consistent with Ebola . His family has been quarantined.

Duncan apparently caught the deadly disease after helping an ill, pregnant woman to the hospital in Liberia in the days before his departure.

Appearing at the request of Duncan's family, Jackson blasted hospital officials for "sending Ebola back into the community."

"Poor, African, without insurance, given a cursory examination. The signs of Ebola were evident," Jackson said at a press conference. "From West Africa - it's most rapid right now in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea - and without health insurance. He was sent back into the community. It did not give him the thorough exam he deserved."

Jackson implied that Texas' response to Duncan would have better if state leaders had not opposed Obamacare.

"Maybe the fact that Southern states from Virginia around to Texas rejected Affordable Care, rejected $100 billion and Medicaid, there would no doubt be a better infrastructure for poor people all across Texas and the South," Jackson said.

"It's strange to me the South would accept money for airports and highways and seaports but not for medicine for the poor."

At the Dallas County Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday morning, Commissioner John Wiley Price shared the same suspicion.

He called the issue of race in Duncan's case the "elephant in the room."

"We know why what happened at Presbyterian happened. It's historically what has happened in this community," Price said. "If a person who looks like me shows up without any insurance, they don't get the same treatment." Price is African-American.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Price's concerns are "a fair question" and that an "exhaustive look" will be taken.

A county judge in Texas is not a judicial office, but the head of the County Commission, analogous to another state's chairman of a county board of supervisors.

Presbyterian officials were quick to deny the allegations.

"He was treated the way any other patient would have been treated, regardless of nationality or ability to pay for care," the hospital said on Facebook. "We have a long history of treating a multi-cultural community in this area."

Presbyterian has faced a wave of criticism about why Duncan's travel history did not set off red flags that would have prevented his release during his first visit.

"Mr. Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola. He fought courageously in this battle," Presbyterian said in a statement. "Our professionals, the doctors and nurses in the unit, as well as the entire Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas community, are also grieving his passing. We have offered the family our support and condolences at this difficult time."

Jenkins said his thoughts were with Duncan's friends and family, "especially his fiancée Louise, their son Karsiah and all those who loved him."

"We are also thinking of the dedicated hospital staff who assisted Mr. Duncan daily while he fought this terrible disease," he said in a statement. "We offer prayers of comfort and peace to everyone impacted by his passing."

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