Via FrontPageAfrica News: Fighting Ebola At ELWA: ‘Greatest Danger To Our Hospital Staff’. Click through for the full report and a slide show. Excerpt:
The first rumors of Ebola in Liberia began to seep into conversation in the middle of March. Before the month closed, there were cases being reported from Lofa, and papers all over the capital city carried headlines with “Ebola” in the title. As the situation grew more serious, ELWA [Eternal Love Winning Africa] Hospital prepared an isolation unit and prayed it would not be needed.
At first it seemed that the prayers had been answered. The outbreak experienced a short lull, and for a time there were no new confirmed cases in Liberia. But on June 11th, ELWA Hospital received their first suspected case of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), an indication of a resurgence that has lasted weeks and shows signs of continuing for much longer.
Since May 29, at least 33 new cases of EVD have been confirmed, 12 of which were in Montserrado, either in or near the capital city of Monrovia. Five of these cases have been treated at ELWA Hospital in ELWA’s isolation unit. The ward currently has two patients, and both have been confirmed as having EVD.
Right now there are three doctors working with the EVD patients, along with nurses and aides. In addition, these doctors and nurses have support from the outside through their decontamination team. This team gets supplies, helps the doctors and nurses dress in their protective gear, and decontaminates them when they come out as well as mixing the bleach that is used in the process.
Dr. Debbie Eisenhut, a SIM surgeon in charge of the EVD response for ELWA, shares that the workers at the hospital “have an obligation to take care of these patients, in order to maximize their chances for survival and relieve their suffering. There is a need for a place to put them in order to protect their families and the community at large from contracting the disease.”
“The greatest danger to our hospital staff,” she continues, “is the possibility of missing a case of Ebola that comes to our ER. The symptoms of Ebola are very non-specific—fever, gastrointestinal symptoms, headache, fatigue, etc. So great vigilance is needed to realize that a patient might be a suspected case so that he/she can be isolated and not admitted to the regular ward.
"This takes careful screening and many questions about the history and contacts. We have a protocol in place to minimize the probability of inadvertent admission of an Ebola patient to our regular wards. We also have a security protocol in place in front of the ER to reduce traffic and to help screen patients appropriately. All of this takes vigilance and attention to detail in order to keep our hospital staff safe.”