In October 2014, East Dallas resident and Presbyterian Hospital nurse Nina Pham was among the first people in the United States to contract the Ebola virus.
Thankfully she, and her dog Bentley, whose care during her Ebola quarantine was publicly funded (and widely discussed), survived and seem to be thriving, if the Instagram is any indication. A photo shared on Twitter following Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recent retirement announcement was a reminder of Fauci’s impressive response when Ebola hit our neighborhood. CNN reporter Sam Stein shared the iconic image of Fauci hugging Pham.
“He made it point to try and de-stigmatize the patient,” Stein writes. “His hug of Nina Pham was an indelible image of that scary moment.”
He became a lightning rod during Covid. But I first started covering Fauci closely during Ebola. And two things stood out. 1. He treated patients himself. 2. He made it point to try and de-stigmatize the patient. His hug of Nina Pham was an indelible image of that scary moment. pic.twitter.com/R958L5dcYz— Sam Stein (@samstein) August 22, 2022
The New York Times, in an opinion essay yesterday recalled the moment too.
“He hugged Nina Pham, a Dallas nurse, in front of cameras after she recovered from Ebola, to soothe a nation’s fears about the virus in 2014,” notes columnist Gregg Gonsalves.
At age 81, Anthony Fauci has advised seven U.S. presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan. Former President George W. Bush (current Preston Hollow dweller) awarded Fauci the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008. Fauci announced Monday that he would step down from his roles running the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and advising the White House as its chief medical advisor at the end of the year.
When the highly contagious and deadly Ebola virus infected two Presbyterian nurses, Dr. Fauci treated them himself, saying at the time that he wanted to show his staff that he wouldn’t ask them to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. The publication Science reported that despite his punishing schedule, Fauci, then 74, reserved at least two hours a day to treat the Ebola patients, hoping to learn more about the illness and to save their lives.
Fauci became a household name during the coronavirus pandemic.
“After more than 50 years of government service, I plan to pursue the next phase of my career while I still have so much energy and passion for my field,” Fauci said in a statement. “I want to use what I have learned as NIAID Director to continue to advance science and public health and to inspire and mentor the next generation of scientific leaders as they help prepare the world to face future infectious disease threats.”
As recently as 2020 Pham posted a “thank you” to Fauci and other doctors.