DALLAS — National civil rights leader Jesse Jackson visited Dallas Tuesday to see first-hand how Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan is being cared for at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Rev. Jackson said he came at the request of Duncan's family, who told him they were not getting enough information from the doctors, and that Duncan was not getting the best care America had to offer.
In the morning, Jackson compared Duncan's care to what American-born Ebola patients have received at other U.S. hospitals.
"It seems the way we treated the Americans in Georgia and Nebraska is different than the way we treated a victim here in Dallas," Jackson said.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas responded quickly with this statement:
"He was treated the way any other patient would have been treated, regardless of nationality or ability to pay for care. We have a long history of treating a multi-cultural community in this area."
By Tuesday afternoon, Jackson had met with hospital officials and was leading a prayer vigil with hospital employees and Duncan's nephew, Josephus Weeks.
"I appreciate you," Weeks said to hospital staffers. "No amount of thanks in the world I can give you. [I am] forever in my debt for treating a man who had no means. He had no ways. But you treated him like a diamond. I appreciate all the efforts you're putting in. Thank you on behalf of my family."
At a news conference following the vigil, Jackson was asked if he thought there was an issue of racism at play.
"I don't want to say that, only because that could become the headline," he said. "Whether you are white in Atlanta or whether you are white in Nebraska or black in Dallas — we know there's different treatment among blacks in this country."
But his tone had changed since the morning. Before he left the city, Jackson spoke highly of Duncan's care.
"I think they've done a marvelous recovery, and we want to embrace the hospital staff and work with them on his recovery," he said.
However, Jackson added that he remains concerned that Duncan was sent home from the hospital the first time he sought help there.
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