Deborah Wilson, a nurse with the Berkshire VNA, this week shared her story of treating Ebola patients in Liberia. The HCA members attending the “Hot Topics” breakfast on “infection Control Best Practices” were mesmerized by her words and pictures.
In the best community health tradition, Wilson talked of challenges that were clinical and treatment related as well as educational.
“Death is a powerful motivator,” She said of village chiefs who were initially skeptical of community health workers who they feared were bringing Ebola in, not treating it. Most eventually let educators in, she said, but not before six education workers were stoned to death in Guinea.
Wilson talked of work on the 120 bed ward, which consisted of patients lying on a concrete floor. The devastation across families was so great, she said, because families often contracted disease by washing the dead bodies of loved ones. “Just after death is when a body can be most contagious,” she said.
Her stories and pictures capture the challenges associated with the life-saving Personal Protective Equipment they wore. Clinicians were often only able to work in the ward for an hour at a time before clothing was soaked through and goggles were too fogged to see.
But Wilson noted that the community health initiative was effective: the death rate while she was there went from over 80% to 60%.
Her amazing pictures are HERE!
Some of the great articles written from her experience are HERE!