December 29 2014
I write this after returning from Kayima, a remote village three hours over treacherous roads from Koidu City where our clinic is based. Workers have just broken ground there on an Ebola Community Care Center, one of four we will be operating in one week’s time.
In an epidemic where distrust and tense interactions between communities and healthworkers have complicated the response throughout the country, what I saw there was nothing short of remarkable.
“We know we need the help,” a high chief told me in our village meeting. “We know Wellbody, the staff, and the work you have done over these years—we are ready.”
This Care Center will house a small number of suspected Ebola patients from the region where they will receive compassionate, effective care while they await test results and transfer to a central treatment unit next to our clinic. All auxiliary staff—sprayers, cleaners, clerks and case managers—have been appointed by the community. U.S. clinicians will support local healthworkers to ensure patients receive prompt, lifesaving care. Roads are being fixed to speed up transport times. And as you read this, hundreds of community healthworkers who will be attached to the Care Center are being recruited, screened and trained to provide surveillance, accompaniment and referral support. Most critically—for the first time in Sierra Leone—these community healthworkers will also deliver daily updates and counseling for family members in the comfort of their own homes on the location, status and health of their loved ones after they enter the Ebola care system.