Steve and Jen will be boarding a plane on November 6th to return to Liberia. A country that was once known for the devastation of a 14-year civil war will now be known as a country ravaged by Ebola. With over 6,500 cases and 2,400 deaths, Liberia remains the country worst affected by the outbreak (WHO Ebola Roadmap, October 29, 2014).
We have been listening for God’s direction and feel that we have had numerous confirmations that we are supposed to continue helping the needs of our Liberian friends. We have been very intentional that our return is a call from God as opposed to an emotional response. Thank you to everyone who has been praying with us for both wisdom and direction.
After Rick Sacra, a physician working at ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, recovered from his Ebola infection he stated,
Because all of the major government and mission hospitals had seen a number of staff become infected with Ebola during the explosive increase in cases in June and July, they had to close for cleaning and disinfection. As a result of the closures, people were not only dying from Ebola, but women who needed a caesarean section could not deliver; children with severe malaria had nowhere to access treatment; diabetics and heart-failure patients were dying.
The need for clinics focused on routine illnesses and medical problems is at a critical level, as most non-Ebola-focused healthcare facilities remain closed. We even had to close the Po River Clinic for a period of time while our staff got additional training and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). We were able to re-open a few weeks ago and our staff is seeing patients once again. We are returning to continue our focus on the care of patients without Ebola and hopefully curb the morbidity and mortality of other illnesses.
On October 14th Jen headed down to Anniston, AL for an Ebola Training course with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). During the training she learned vital information on triaging patients with suspected Ebola, tracing contacts, and the basics of treatment. She also spent three afternoons suiting-up in Tyvek coveralls and working in a mock ETU (Ebola Treatment Unit). She also met many other healthcare workers who are stepping up as volunteers for the Ebola response, many of which will be joining us in Liberia!
Going back to Liberia, we’re not sure what to expect when we get on the ground. Our friend, Morgana, a photographer who has been working alongside organizations like USAID and UNICEF to document this outbreak, called it, “a new normal.” We’re not sure exactly what that means, but we hear our favorite coffee shop is still open! Many people have been asking us if we’re scared about going back. Though there may have been some anxious thoughts during the beginning of our time back in the States, for the past 2 weeks we’ve had an unexplainable peace about our return… then, again, we haven’t begun packing yet!