Emory University, Ebola, and the Duty to Care

When news broke that two American medical missionaries stricken with the virulent Ebola virus were being transported to the United States, opinions around the world, in America, and on the streets of Atlanta, GA, were mixed…as they yet remain. Some passersby lauded Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital (EUH) for welcoming the sick to the institution. Others grew nervous that nearby citizens and anyone visiting or currently an inpatient at the facility may become infected. Many wondered how Dr. Kent Brantly, and missionary Nancy Writebol became infected in the first place; and others asked, “Why can’t we just send workers to Liberia, and treat the patients there? Why bring them here at all?” A Dr. Ford Vox expressed the concerns and fears of many in a Bloomberg View blog, “Who Invited Ebola to Atlanta?” While the Washington Post published, “Why you’re not going to get Ebola in the United States.” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (as well as other experts in infectious diseases) made rounds on Sunday news programs, assuring the American—and Atlanta—public that there is little risk to the general population. For some, Dr. Frieden’s words lacked comfort, considering two recent publicized failures in CDC protocol involving highly infectious agents—highly contagious flu viruses and potentially aerosolized anthrax spores. When called before Congress, Dr. Frieden admitted that these were not isolated instances, but part of a broader problem with the agency. So can Dr. Frieden speak with such confidence in this Ebola matter, with these two patients housed within walking distance of the CDC campus? Similar to the Bo Bergdahl dilemma—do we return any...