AmeriCares is recruiting physicians and nurses to fight the Ebola epidemic in Liberia. The medical professionals will work in the Buchanan Ebola Treatment Unit, a 100-bed capacity facility managed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in coordination with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. The facility is one of the treatment units the U.S. Department of Defense and USAID are building to combat the outbreak – the worst in history.
“We’ve had an overwhelming response from doctors and nurses willing to risk their lives to help save others from this horrific virus,” said AmeriCares President and CEO Michael J. Nyenhuis. “I am in awe of the sacrifices they are making to be part of the global response, and so proud AmeriCares is playing a key role in identifying qualified medical personnel to help contain the epidemic. These dedicated medical professionals embody our mission to save lives and restore health for people in crisis.”
The recruitment effort is part of a new partnership between AmeriCares and the IOM. The USAID-funded effort aims to provide qualified medical personnel and adequate medical supplies, to ensure Liberians with Ebola symptoms can be tested for the deadly virus and, if needed, be isolated and cared for in high quality facilities near their home communities.
Dr. Margaret Tandoh, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, was one of the first medical professionals to join the fight. Born and raised in Liberia, Tandoh said she has a responsibility to return to her homeland in a time of crisis.
“They are my people the way I see it,” Tandoh said. “This is home. This is where I came from. This is what made me.”
She is part of a team of physicians and nurses, along with a psychosocial expert, who will work rotating shifts through the end of June, deploying for an average of eight weeks at a time. They will work alongside 200 Liberian professionals recruited by IOM in coordination with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. An AmeriCares public health and emergency response expert will oversee the entire team.
While many people would be terrified to go into the hot zone in the midst of the crisis, Dr. Dario Gonzalez, who took a break from his job as Associate Medical Director of the New York City Fire Department to spend two months in Liberia, said he views it as a privilege.
“It’s probably been the biggest global medical disaster of the century and I am looking at it as a way I can do some little piece,” Gonzalez said. “People would be surprised. There is a subculture of people who do incredible things for strangers with no reward.”
AmeriCares will also provide essential medicines and supplies to augment IOM’s procurement capacity for three new Ebola treatment units managed by IOM. Long term, AmeriCares plans to scale up its efforts to provide community outreach, training for local health workers and other support to make the Ebola treatment center a health hub that strengthens health care services in the surrounding communities.
AmeriCares has been working on the crisis since the spring, providing critical safety equipment to protect frontline health workers and intravenous fluids to rehydrate Ebola patients. To date, AmeriCares has delivered 19 aid shipments to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea for the crisis, including 2.9 million items of personal protective equipment to protect frontline health workers. An AmeriCares Emergency Response Team has been in Liberia since September, overseeing the organization’s response to the outbreak and working closely with health officials on containment strategies.