An American Who Vomited Near the Pentagon

Posted: Oct 23, 2014 12:01 AM

We have now learned what can happen in this Era of Obama when an American who does not have Ebola vomits near the Pentagon.

The first clue was a statement put out Friday by Arlington County, Virginia, where the Pentagon sits.

"At about 9:10 a.m. today, Pentagon Police officers identified a woman in the Pentagon South Parking Lot, around lanes 17-19, who was ill and vomiting," said the statement. "Arlington County Fire Department was notified and responded immediately with both emergency medical aid and hazmat response team."

"During the response," the statement said, "the individual allegedly indicated that she had recently visited western Africa."

Allegedly indicated? Scientific precision apparently did not matter in this particular instance of government disease control. Allegedly was good enough.

After all, she had vomited near the Pentagon.

"Out of an abundance of caution, all pedestrian and vehicular traffic was suspended around the South Parking lot, while Arlington County responded to the scene," the statement said. "At 9:53 a.m., the patient was taken to the Virginia Hospital Center; however she did not exit the ambulance."

She did not exit the ambulance?

Virginia Hospital Center -- where this American was delivered in an ambulance she did not exit -- is less than seven miles from the White House. It is rated one of the Top 100 hospitals in the United States.

The Arlington County Fire Department said Monday that when the ambulance arrived there, the hospital told the crew to wait and not bring the patient into the facility. An estimated 20 minutes later, according to the fire department, the hospital told the ambulance to take the woman to another hospital -- 7 miles away.

After all, she had vomited near the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post would report, a bus the woman had entered in the Pentagon parking lot had run into a blockade on Capitol Hill -- while carrying U.S. Marines. "The bus was placed under quarantine on the 600 block of I Street SE," said the Post.

So here we have the opening scene in this drama of Obama Era health care: An American vomits in a parking lot. Pentagon police close in. Someone alleges this American indicated she had visited West Africa. The parking lot is sealed. Traffic stopped. A hazmat team arrives. A bus the American had boarded before vomiting is quarantined in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol with a contingent of Marines on board. An ambulance brings the American to one of the nation's finest hospitals -- and she is turned away.

After all, she had vomited near the Pentagon.

Later, the Virginia Hospital Center would explain that it believed at that moment its facilities were not yet ready to receive a patient like this particular American.

"As suspected Ebola cases surfaced at other hospitals and the CDC continued to change their recommended care guidelines, Virginia Hospital Center believed it was imperative that we have dedicated connecting rooms in the biocontainment area that would allow for the use of an anteroom by staff to safely enter and leave a patient's room and safely remove and decontaminate Personal Protective Equipment," said the hospital on Tuesday. "We needed to construct this anteroom to help mitigate the risk of transmission to patients, staff and our community."

"The safety and well-being of the patient, as well as all of our patients, staff and community, was paramount in our decision to transport the patient to a hospital equipped to care for the patient at that time," said the hospital.

After all, she had vomited near the Pentagon.

At 5:45 p.m. on Friday, Inova Fairfax Hospital issued an update: "A patient who presented to the Inova Fairfax Medical Campus Emergency Department for evaluation in relation to Ebola has not met the CDC criteria to be tested."

The American who had vomited near the Pentagon did not have Ebola, after all. She did not even need to be tested for it.

But before the government and its health care system discovered that she did not need to be tested for Ebola, she did need to be approached by a hazmat team, she did need to be turned away by one of the nation's top hospitals, and she did need to be perceived as a reasonable cause for U.S. Marines to be quarantined on Capitol Hill.

The day after this Ebola-free American vomited near the Pentagon, our physician in chief gave his weekly address. He titled it: "What You Need to Know About Ebola."

The president gave no indication he wanted to impose any kind of quarantine period on people entering the United States from the three countries -- Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone -- suffering an Ebola epidemic.

"Finally, we can't just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging," Obama said.

"Before this is over, we may see more isolated cases here in America," he said. "But we know how to wage this fight."

In the Washington suburbs last week, we did not see the government dealing with an isolated case of Ebola. We saw it dealing with an American who did not have Ebola.

If that makes you want to vomit, steer clear of the Pentagon.