The day after Ben Flyr, TOMI’s Director of Training and Implementation, said his good-byes and flew home from Monrovia, news spread of an Ebola outbreak. As we reported, a 15-year-old boy, Nathan Gbotoe was diagnosed with the first case of Ebola since the country was declared “free of Ebola” by the World Health Organization on September 3rd. What followed were conflicting accounts about how Gbotoe was diagnosed, quarantine procedures at John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFK) and PPE usage. Once Gbotoe was a confirmed Ebola patient, two days later, he was transferred to the Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) at ELWA-3, outside of Monrovia . Unfortunately, Gbotoe died three days later. His father and younger brother were also cared for at ELWA-3 as confirmed Ebola patients. They were both released last Thursday, December 3rd and Liberia started their countdown once more to becoming “free of Ebola”. Although there were purportedly several breeches in infection control in this case, new efforts are being made to provide healthcare workers with equipment that will help to quickly limit outbreaks. Here is how TOMI’s local Liberian consultant, Halrean D. Demey, utilized her SteraMist™ training and decontaminated JFK medical center with the SteraMist™ Surface Unit .
Project Concern International (PCI) hired Halrean based on her experience providing support on US and international aid projects. As a result, she was paired with our team working with them for 35 days during their USAID assignments in Ganta and Monrovia. She was involved in all of the testing of new decontamination doffing procedures incorporating the SteraMist™ Decontamination Chambers. As part of this process, she was also fully trained on the proper decontamination protocols using the SteraMist™ Decontamination Chambers, the SteraMist™ Surface Unit and the SteraMist™ Environment System.
After hearing of the oversights at JFK, the nation’s largest referral hospital, Halrean retrieved the SteraMist™ Surface Unit that remained at the PCI warehouse, and traveled to JFK hospital. There she donned her PPE and decontaminated the hospital wards and equipment used to treat Gbotoe. Following the same protocol and training imparted by Elizabeth, Ben and Reed. It was the precise reason they spent five weeks in the country to make sure that the proper training, knowledge and equipment was available to quickly respond to, and curtail outbreaks.
“We were saddened by the recent resurgence of Ebola but heartened by the thoughts that our training and equipment would help in the fight against Ebola,” said Battaglia. “Everyone was eager to use SteraMist™ and follow the new protocol to help their country.”
Liberia has come a long way in their efforts in infection control but there are still ways that medical facilities can improve. Over one hundred and fifty people are currently under observation for symptoms of Ebola due to this latest outbreak. Vigilance is essential and following the basic steps to infection control are fundamental to containing this virus. This was the primary USAID task for Team TOMI™ in Liberia, to pursue research and development of products that could be beneficial in the goal of “getting to zero” new Ebola cases. Great job to Halrean and all the healthcare workers in Liberia. Our hearts are with you in your current countdown to being declared Ebola-Free.