Collingswood nurse discusses being a volunteer for Liberian Ebola treatment unit

Source: NJ.com/South Jersey Times
Andrew Wegoye, a Collingswood resident and Inspira Health Network registered nurse, is in Buchanan, Liberia working inside a newly-built Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU)…(He) has offered to share what he’s seen and done since he landed in West Africa (with) the South Jersey Times
When he first arrived in Liberia at the end of October, Wegoye had to go through multiple aspects of training to prepare for work in the Ebola Treatment Units. “We learned about proper hand-washing methods, clinical management of patients, how to use our personal protective equipment and dead body management,” Wegoye says.
As part of his training, Wegoye also worked with Liberian Ebola survivors: “They shared their battle with the deadly disease and volunteered to act as mock patients during our training. One of the survivors said she came down with the virus earlier on in the outbreak while working as a physician assistant at a hospital.” The survivor told him she started crying when she heard about her diagnosis, and when had to tell her daughter the news.
“She developed bedsores, was very weak and lacked any appetite,” Wegoye continues. “She said more medical staff from her hospital arrived in the ETU every day with symptoms, telling us that ‘people died in the morning, people died in the evening,’ sometimes in the bed right next to hers.”
Wegoye, fully aware of what could happen to him, decided to head to West Africa for four months after the outbreak of the virus continued to spread. He felt a strong desire to help, since he grew up in Africa.
He notes that “people religiously avoid shaking hands and hugging…Most public places keep a bucket of chlorinated water stationed at entrance points for people to wash hands before entering. A temperature check, too, is mandatory before entry.”
He added that school grounds look abandoned. “Along the streets, billboards describe how to prevent the transmission of Ebola,” Wegoye says. “Over the FM radio in our van, a beer commercial airs but starts off by encouraging people to wash their hands and to avoid traditional burial practices for deceased Ebola patients.”
As the winter holidays approach in the U.S., Wegoye says it’s been tough to be away from home this time of year. When he returns to the United States, he said he intends to quarantine himself for 21 days, away from his wife, Jennifer, and family. “Yes, it is tough to be away from family, especially around holidays, but the Liberians have been very friendly to us. On Thanksgiving, I was able to Skype with my wife and had a decent meal with the rest of the team here.”

“While reports have shown that recent numbers of confirmed Ebola cases are declining in Liberia, it is only with a continued international effort that we will eliminate this epidemic that has already claimed so many lives,” Wegoye says.

As he sends updates, the South Jersey Times will continue to share Wegoye’s experiences in West Africa.

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