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Released Ebola patients see an answer to prayers

Richard Furman recently received a grim phone call from a physician in Liberia.

The doctor gave an update about medical missionary Dr. Kent Brantly, who had been stricken with the Ebola virus in the West African nation.


Dr. Kent Brantly (in blue shirt) addresses the media Thursday at Emory. Photo from Samaritan’s Purse

The physician didn’t think Brantly would survive, said Furman, a retired surgeon who’s on the board of directors of the Christian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse, where Brantly worked. Furman said the doctor “thought he [Brantly] was gone.”

On Thursday, Dr. Furman celebrated Brantly’s recovery while seated among journalists during an emotional news conference at Emory University Hospital, where Brantley’s discharge was announced.

Fellow Ebola patient Nancy Writebol, who also caught the disease while working as a medical missionary in Liberia, was released Tuesday from Emory, officials said. Writebol had requested no announcement be made when her discharge occurred, Emory said.

Their release poses “no public health threat,’’ said Dr. Bruce Ribner, an Emory infectious disease specialist who addressed the media.

Brantly, 33, and Writebol, 59, show no evidence of Ebola, said Ribner. full story

Ebola: Emory gets chance to save lives, educate

A roomful of reporters and TV cameras tracked every word that Emory physicians said at a Friday news conference preceding the arrival of two Americans stricken with Ebola.

After their high-profile trip to Atlanta, the two patients’ treatment in a special isolation unit at Emory University Hospital has brought unprecedented media attention to the medical facility.

TV cameras are posted prior to Emory press conference Friday.

The net effect for Emory is an immediate increase in prestige and visibility, health care experts told GHN on Wednesday.

“It’s a huge boost in prestige for Emory,’’ said Craig Savage, a health care consultant with Durham, N.C.-based CMBC Advisors. The hospital shows through the Ebola cases “the ability to care for the sickest of the sick,” Savage said.

Emory has long had a strong reputation in health care circles, though Savage said it generally has not been listed in the highly exclusive top tier of U.S. academic medical centers, as have Johns Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic.

Yet the recent days of intense news coverage — in which TV helicopters tracked the patients’ ambulances and networks interrupted regular programming to show their arrivals at the hospital — reached ordinary people around the world who might not previously have even heard of Emory. full story

Breastfeeding still too low in Georgia, report says

Georgia still lags behind the national averages on infant breastfeeding rates, a newly released CDC report card shows.

In 2011 — the latest year the data were available — 79.2 percent of newborn infants started breastfeeding nationally, the report says. The Georgia rate was 70.3 percent, slightly up from the 68.2 percent rate the year before.


Yet once again, the annual report card says that zero Georgia births in 2011 occurred at “Baby-Friendly” hospitals that promote breastfeeding. A handful of other states also had a zero mark. Nationally, the average of births at these designated facilities is 7.79 percent.

Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for infants and mothers. For the baby, breastfeeding reduces the incidence and severity of many infectious diseases, lowers infant mortality and supports healthy development of the brain and nervous system. It also lowers infants’ risk of becoming obese later in childhood.

For mothers, breastfeeding reduces the risks of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease.

“The research on the superiority of breast milk compared to formula is overwhelming and compelling from both a health and fiscal standpoint,’’ Merrilee Gober, board president of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia, told GHN in commenting about the CDC report. full story

First Ebola patient arrives at Emory

Ebola-stricken Dr. Kent Brantly arrived at Emory University Hospital on Saturday, the first known patient with the virus treated on U.S. soil.

A specially equipped medical plane brought Brantly from the African nation of Liberia to Georgia. He rode in a Grady ambulance from Dobbins Air Reserve Base to the Emory campus in Atlanta.

Emory will treat Brantly, 33, and eventually the other American infected with Ebola, fellow medical missionary Nancy Writebol, in a special isolation unit.

Brantly’s wife, Amber, said in a statement Saturday, “I spoke with him, and he is glad to be back in the U.S.”

Here is CNN’s account of Brantly’s arrival.


Georgia plays role as world focuses on Ebola

Emory University Hospital’s special isolation unit has treated just a handful of patients with serious infectious diseases over its 12 years of existence.

Now it’s about to get two more.

Two American medical missionaries infected with the deadly Ebola virus will soon be treated in the Emory unit after being transported from West Africa to Georgia via air ambulance.

Emory University Hospital

Emory University Hospital

The patients, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, are expected to arrive separately at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Cobb County, and each will ride in a special Grady Memorial Hospital ambulance to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. The isolation unit is housed in a discrete area of the hospital where there are no other patients.

They will be the first people infected with Ebola treated at a U.S. institution, said Dr. Bruce Ribner, an Emory infectious disease expert.

He and another Emory physician, Dr. Alexander Isakov, an emergency medicine and preparedness expert, gave details about the unit and the treatment and safety issues to a packed news conference Friday afternoon in a hospital auditorium.

They did not give a specific arrival date for the two patients. full story

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