IU medicine leaders redirect fear of Ebola in U.S. to help needed in Liberia

Indiana University
(WISH file photo)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it is re-evaluating protocols for using protective gear, and limiting the number of health care workers who have contact with Ebola patients.

A Dallas nurse, now identified as Nina Pham and one person she had contact with are now in isolation.

President Obama says he wants answers after the “breach of protocol”.

Infection protocol is at the center of a collaborative effort between Liberia and Indiana University.

Top IU Medicine and Nursing School professors spoke out Monday about their experiences working closely with Ebola patients and what the fight is like in West Africa.

The year 2013 launched the Center of Excellence for the Health and Life Sciences (CEHLS): A four-year, $2.7 million award funded by USAID through Higher Education for Development. The project supports academic partnership between IU, Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts, University of Liberia, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School to improve health care workforce training in Liberia and to address their national shortage of health care workers.

Joshua Mugele, IU School of Medicine Associate Professor, was in Liberia where hundreds are dying from a disease that should otherwise be easily controlled.

“It’s a man power issues, but it’s also just money and equipment issue at this point,” said Mugele

He says that his one hospital alone he has more doctors, nurses and beds than the entire country of Liberia with 4.3 million people.

“And so their whole infrastructure is being affected. Not only by the numbers of people dying from Ebola, but by the doctors and nurses dying. By the costs associated with getting air flights into Monrovia into Liberia,” said Mugele.

Chad Priest, Assistant Dean of Operations and Community Partnerships at IU School of Nursing, says it’s important to be good global citizens, attack the outbreak at its root and keep things in perspective in the U.S.

“There’s been two cases here in the United States spontaneously. So, there are much more rational things to think about and be worried about,” said Priest.

Priest and Mugele lost a great colleague to Ebola during their work in Liberia. Dr. Samuel Brisbane.

“And he died doing work that many people are afraid to do,” said Mugele.

“He was a patriot. He was a patriot in the true sense of the word. He cared about his countrymen. He cared about his country and he cared about their wellbeing,” said Priest.

An immeasurable loss compounded by the fact that this outbreak is as simple to stop as people regularly washing their hands and having trained healthcare workers practice a high level of suspicion.

“It’s a tragedy and I hope people pay attention to it and I hope people keep it in their consciousness and choose to do something about it,” said Mugele.

Mugele and Priest want you to know for perspective’s sake, it’s more likely you’ll die from the flu than Ebola. So, to help, they say wash your hands, get your flu shots and help the efforts in Liberia.

They say if it’s stopped it there, it likely won’t come the United States. Money helps the most to purchase supplies and fund training.

To donate to the Sam Brisbane fund click here.

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