Nina Pham, first person to contract Ebola in US, arrives in Maryland

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Friday, October 17, 2014
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The first nurse to be diagnosed with Ebola after treating an infected Liberian man at a Dallas hospital arrived in Maryland Thursday night.

DALLAS (KABC) -- For the first time, we're hearing from the healthcare worker in Dallas who became the first person to contract Ebola on U.S. soil. Nina Pham, 26, was treating Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas before his death.

Texas Health Presbyterian officials said Wednesday that Pham was in good condition.

Video was taken before Pham was transported to Maryland for treatment. Her treating physician, Dr. Gary Weinstein, recorded the conversation with her. According to the hospital, Pham asked that the video be shared.

In the video, she's being thanked by Dr. Weinstein for being part of the volunteer program. With a smile, she then tells everyone in her room, "Come to Maryland, everybody."

The National Institutes of Health said in a statement that Pham was being taken from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas to a NIH center in Bethesda, Maryland. The NIH facility has one of four isolation units in the United States.

Pham arrived by plane in Maryland Thursday night.

As Pham left the Dallas hospital in an ambulance about 6 p.m. Thursday, dozens of nurses cheered and waved signs bearing messages of affection and good wishes. She was taken to Dallas Love Field, where she boarded the same executive jet used to fly a co-worker to an Atlanta hospital on Wednesday. The jet took off shortly after 7 p.m.

Hospital spokesman Wendell Watson said Pham's transfer is necessary because numerous employees are being monitored for symptoms and aren't available to work.

Pham will receive care from an NIH staff specializing in infectious disease and critical care, according to the NIH statement.

A second nurse who tested positive, 29-year-old Amber Joy Vinson, has been transferred to a biohazard infectious disease center at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Pham and Vinson were involved in providing care to Thomas Duncan, who died of Ebola last week at Texas Health Presbyterian.

They wore protective gear including face shields, hazardous materials suits and protective footwear as they inserted catheters, drew blood and dealt with his body fluids. Still, the two somehow contracted Ebola.

Federal health officials said Thursday they still don't know how the nurses caught the virus from Duncan.

Pham was flown to Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick, Maryland, a small airport about 35 miles northwest of the NIH. State police, the city and the county are coordinating to ensure she has a quick trip to the hospital, Frederick City Police Lt. Clark Pennington said Thursday.

KTRK and The Associated Press contributed to this report.