There are only 3 doctors working in the entire district of Kono with a population of 540,000. To put this in perspective, when I left Buffalo last week there were 6 doctor's, 9 NP's just at Jericho Road, and well over 1,000 doctors in Buffalo. This evening Phenian and I met with the two doctors who staff the Koidu Government Hospital. Dr. Marsh in the medical director of the hospital and Dr. Sheku is the main surgeon. We also met with the district surveillance officer/epidemiologist who tracks all Ebola cases and their contacts in Kono. we visited these men in their homes, not the hospital. These brave and courageous men are putting their lives on the line daily.
Kono has had 34 documented cases of Ebola since May. When a person is suspected of Ebola, they are triaged to a holding center, blood is taken and they are held there until the blood test results come back. Results take up to 48 hours. In the past, if a test is positive, the patient was transferred 2 hours away to the Ebola Treatment Center in Kenema. But since this center is usually full, the Koidu Hospital has converted one of its main wards into a treatment center. There is no medication for Ebola but they use antibiotics for secondary infections, oral rehydration therapy for those who can drink, IV fluids for those who are too weak to drink. There are presently 3 positive cases. One is a 12 year old boy who has been there for 5 weeks. So far only 3 people have survived. Everyone else has died.
Dr. Marsh told me that 28 of his 71 nurses at the hospital volunteered to serve on the Ebola ward. These brave nurses put on PPE and care for these sick patients. They have done intensive training and so far none of his team has gotten infected with Ebola. One can only imagine how devastating it would be to lose a doctor or a nurse in such a resource poor community.
They told us that the biggest need they have right now is PPE. They presently use about 25 suits per day. Tomorrow, Phebian and I will deliver several truck loads of medical supplies from our clinic including 500 of our PPE kits to the hospital in an effort to help. We did not actually go into the hospital. Since we are filling a container with medical supplies, we thought it appropriate to share with those on the front lines. Filling up the container will make a huge difference.
Tomorrow, we hope to meet with the third doctor in Kono, Dr. Dibba who is the Wellbody staff Physician as well as Dr. Kelly who is the founding Physician of Wellbody. We know that we have to work together in this time of crisis. Phebian and I can learn much from our Wellbody and Koidu Hospital friends who are presently providing primary medical care in an Ebola zone and are doing it safely by following very strict triage protocols and stringent clinic wide infection control practices. That they are doing it gives me the confidence that we can also do it. God knows that our clinic is desperately needed.
Two breakthroughs to pray for that would be life saving for the courageous health care workers in this Ebola crisis. One is the development of an accurate rapid test for Ebola that would give results immediately. The second is the development of a safe and effect vaccines against this horrible virus. On my flight here, I was sitting next to some CDC doctors who told me that the rapid test may be weeks away and the vaccine should be here by late January. I told this to Dr. Sheku this evening and he looked at me and said quietly, "but what about October, November, December? How will we survive until them?" So, please pray for these breakthroughs to happen quickly.
Keep the courageous health care workers of Sierra Lone in your prayers. Working in an incredibly under resourced system and now faced with Ebola. They are an inspiration to me. When I think about what they are doing, I know that I can never complain again about the minor inconveniences we face daily at Jericho Road.
Phebian, Pastor Joshua and our team are well. Today we cleaned out the storage facility moving everything to the clinic. The 4 consultation rooms now each have an exam table. Our furnishings are sparse but it is looking like a real clinic. There are a lot of smiles going around. By the way, it is easy to move heavy exam tables because there are many hands willing to help. The solar panels are being installed tomorrow by World Hope.
I am grateful for this opportunity to be here and thankful for so many of you who have given in some way to make this clinic a reality. God has been faithful.
Please continue to pray for and to sacrificially support this work.