Man with heavy chicken pox and recent foreign travel prompts Danville hospital to close ER, say very little to local newspaper

Police guard emergency area. (Advocate-Messenger photo)

An adult patient with a heavy case of chicken pox and a recent history of international travel prompted Ephraim McDowell Memorial Hospital in Danville to close its emergency department Saturday evening.

Hospital marketing director Jeremy Cocanougher told The Associated Press “that
the patient was covered in spots and that they were far larger and more
numerous than traditional chicken pox, which alarmed doctors,” The Advocate-Messenger in Danville reports. “The patient had also been overseas recently, raising more concerns.”

The closure created a stir in the Danville area, but at 11:22 p.m. Saturday, the Danville-Boyle County Emergency Management agency reported via Facebook “that the hospital had received confirmation the
patient had two strains of adult chicken pox,” the newspaper reports. “At 7:44 a.m. Sunday, a post on the Ephraim McDowell Health page stated that the patient is not a risk to the community’s health.”

“Potential patients were being diverted to area hospitals. The rest of the hospital remained fully operational,” Kendra Peek reports for the newspaper. “It was during that time that the
hospital released a statement in which they said the patient was being
evaluated as a ‘potential public health risk,’ but would release nothing
further than to say it was working with the Centers for Disease Control and
state and local health officials.”

Peek reports, “At about 7:30 p.m. staff members
without direct patient contact were released and those patients that
were able to moved out of the ER were being moved. It was about 11 p.m. when the emergency department opened again, according to The Associated Press. Repeated efforts by The Advocate-Messenger to speak with representatives at the hospital were not successful.”
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