May 26, 2015 - 5:20 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - If the ongoing Ebola epidemic has a human face within the Interior Health Authority, it’s that of Patrice Gordon, a nurse practioner who returned from West Africa last December and promptly began displaying the early signs of of the disease.
Gordon tested negative for the virus, but since then the health authority has put another 12 people who have returned from West Africa, through a stringent monitoring process which is part of the larger Ebola response plan endorsed by the health authority board of directors at is public board meeting this week.
“At any given time we may be monitoring a couple of people,” Meg Rao, a communicable disease specialist, said. “Some of these are healthcare workers, some are aid workers who worked in the capacities that were non-health care related but who helped in the aid effort and others are people who were not related to the Ebola effort at all but were there on business or for travel.”
None of the 12 patients required testing, although the health authority will continue its Ebola protocol until the epidemic is declared over.
“We’re continuing to use this process to monitor people and are continuing to revise things and learn from what we have been through already,” Rao added.
Gordon was on hand to describe her experience as both a health care provider and a suspected ebola carrier to board members.
She both cursed and praised the personal protective equipment health care workers must wear when dealing with suspected or confirmed cases of the virus.
“We have a love-hate relationship with the gear. It’s so cumbersome. It’s so hot and so sweaty, especially in Sierra Leone. The heat and humidity was staggering,” Gordon said.
“But it’s what makes it possible to provide care for and to touch these people, which is what they need. We had to wear goggles and they would steam up, both from the heat and from crying. And there’s a lot to cry about in an Ebola treatment centre."
Back in Canada, as a possible ebola victim herself, Gordon said she was impressed with the professionalism displayed by local staff operating far from the front lines of the disease.
“All those preparations paid off. Everything happened like it was supposed to,” she said. “Everybody was doing everything right. I do know Ebola and I know how to keep myself and others safe from it. If I had tested positive for Ebola, it would have ended with me.”
A volunteer demonstrates the protective gear those treating suspected Ebola cases must wear.
(JOHN MCDONALD /InfoTel Multimedia)
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- Update 8:49 p.m. Friday, May 29 changing incorrect information about ebola testing.
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