Sun-Times Media Says Don’t Read Alternative News – wait for Official Statements…

because we all know how reliable official statements are!


Janelle Walker: Rumors about Ebola at Sherman spread fast

For Sun-Times Media

Oct. 13 4:14 p.m.

OK folks, let’s get this straight.

There was not nor has there ever been an Ebola virus patient at Elgin’s Advocate Sherman Hospital. The hospital was never on lockdown over the weekend, or last week, no matter what your uncle told you.

So those people who have been reposting and sharing a status update from websites such as “” and “,” … well basically you have been punked. If you have continued to re-share the post, quit it. You are causing needless worry and flaming the fans. Save it for when there is a problem.

What Sherman did have, last Thursday evening, was a patient who came in with flu-like symptoms who self-reported recent travel to Africa, according to Tonya Lucchetti-Hudson, director of public affairs and marketing.

The patient was immediately put into isolation and all of the Centers for Disease Control protocols were followed, she said. However, there was little doubt when the man first came in that he was not, in fact, a likely Ebola case.

By Friday, the hospital verified that the man was not a likely candidate for Ebola. He was treated and sent home.

On Friday, at least on the day that the man was released and likely after he was released, these conspiracy websites went to work, doing what they are apparently designed to do — cause mayhem and needless concern.

Lucchetti-Hudson said the first time she’d heard about the “lockdown” was when a reporter told her about that rumor on Monday.

The second website that was reporting this nonsense,, later updated their status to say the hospital didn’t have an Ebola patient — that it was West Nile.

Interesting, as the hospital didn’t have a West Nile patient that she’d heard of, Lucchetti-Hudson said.

“That discredits it even further. People are already scared about this — it is a scary thing. But to spread rumors … it doesn’t help the situation. If we did have a patient that did warrant testing for Ebola we would share that information with the public through the media. You would never hear about a potential case through Facebook or a blog,” she added.

“If there was a threat, it would be communicated. This is a matter of public health. If there was an actual threat, we are required to share that, that is absolutely the right thing to do.”

I posted a response from the hospital about the rumor on a Facebook page for Elgin residents on Sunday, after seeing the false website story posted to the page.

I later took it down, as so many people don’t either listen to reason, or understand how hospitals and public health officials deal with outbreaks. The responses read something like this:

“But my best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother said that his girlfriend said not to visit him ’cause there was Ebola in the hospital!”

“My uncle said he wanted to go to the Sherman ER but because it’s on lockdown it wouldda taken another two hours so he decided not to.”

The Sherman ER was very busy on Sunday, Lucchetti-Hudson said. She didn’t know why — but it had nothing to do with Ebola.

If there had been a patient at Sherman Hospital with Ebola, there would have been an announcement from the hospital, public health and the CDC. Every TV truck from every major news outlet in the country would have been parked outside Sherman’s doors had this been the case.

“It is a matter of public health and of course we would have reported that,” Lucchetti-Hudson said.

All the hospital did — and like just about every hospital in the country has been and will continue to do — is follow the CDC’s criteria and protocols. When someone comes in with flu-like symptoms, they ask about travel history and appropriate steps are taken.

There have been people who’ve walked into hospitals and said they were in Africa when they were not. Or were in South Africa, where the virus has not spread. There is a lot of unreasonable fear out there.

The hysteria and refusal to listen to reason is beyond irrational.