Dr. Sacra thanks med center health care team

by John Keenan and Taylor Wilson | September 26, 2014

Image with caption: Rick Sacra, M.D., at his press conference Thursday morning. (Photo courtesy The Nebraska Medical Center)

Rick Sacra, M.D., at his press conference Thursday morning. (Photo courtesy The Nebraska Medical Center)

"I wanted to wear my Husker shirt to this event," Rick Sacra, M.D., told a crowd of reporters and members of his health care team, "but I was told it was not appropriate."

Maybe not, but there was a game-day feeling Thursday morning as Dr. Sacra, pronouncing himself "an official, lifetime Huskers fan," was released from the Biocontainment Unit after being treated for the past three weeks at The Nebraska Medical Center for the Ebola virus.

Watch excerpts from Thursday's press conference.
UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., even totaled up the score: Nebraska 1, Ebola 0.

The CDC had confirmed that two separate blood samples taken from Dr. Sacra 24 hours apart showed the virus was no longer in Dr. Sacra's bloodstream. Dr. Sacra credited "God and the team here at The Nebraska Medical Center," as well as the many people praying for him, for his recovery from the illness.

"During the time I was here, there was a growing confidence that God was answering those prayers, and that I was steadily improving," he said.

He also requested continued prayers and support for the other victims of the virus. Dr. Sacra contracted the Ebola virus while treating patients in West Africa. He works for SIM, an international mission group that responds to areas of need worldwide.

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., lavished praise on Dr. Sacra's health care team and the med center community as a whole.

"I want to say thank you to all of the members of the patient care team in the biocontainment unit -- you put in long hours in a stressful situation and handled yourselves in exemplary fashion. You are to be commended for your dedication," Dr. Gold said.

"Thank you to everyone else on campus who continued to perform your jobs while putting the fears of anyone who had concerns at ease," he said. "And special thanks to those in the research and clinical areas, as this partnership made all the difference."

To see a slideshow of photos from the press conference, click here.

Seeing Dr. Sacra walk out the doors of the Biocontainment Unit healthy again was gratifying to the entire health care team, said Phil Smith, M.D., medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at The Nebraska Medical Center and professor of internal medicine/infectious diseases at UNMC.

"To know that we were able to play a role in helping his body fight off the virus so he could be reunited with his family and continue doing the work he's so passionate about makes the years we've spent training and preparing for something like this more than worth it."

Dr. Smith also had a personal message for the team, several members of which were on hand to take part in the celebratory press conference.

"You acted with courage and compassion, and I'm proud of each and every one of you," Dr. Smith said.

Dr. Sacra also praised his team of health care providers.

"They were compassionate, patient and provided an incredibly high level of care," he said.

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Stephani Tyrance
September 26, 2014 at 3:01 PM

I am so happy that Dr. Sacra is recovered and very proud of the UNMC team for providing such great care.

Laura Shafer
September 26, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Ah, the sweet smell of success!

Rebecca Ramsey
September 26, 2014 at 9:58 AM

This is a feat and a testament to Dr. Phil Smith's leadership. Awesome. I'm happy to see Dr. Sacra's smile, and I hope that at some point he might be willing to talk about his experiences at the Med Center!