We have no more patients
Only a few days ago, our Ebola Management Center (EMC) kept me extremely busy. There were close to 300 individuals devoted to doing everything possible to reduce the mortality of our Ebola patients without compromising personal safety. On-duty entries kept constant records of the sickest patients and the strategies to help them survive.
Today, we - two dumbfounded doctors stare - at our empty blackboard. We have no more patients.
Empty boards where just eight weeks ago over 100 names were listed. ©MSF
It is true that doctors are few of the professionals who tirelessly struggle to run out of work, and in this type of project, it’s even truer. But only a week ago we had not time to rest, we spent our time trying to optimize entries into the high-risk zone to devote as much of our time as possible to too many patients in terrible conditions.
It is hard to believe this morning we discharged our last patient; he left smiling with his letter of “negative for Ebola” in his hand, ready to go on with his life. And with his work, as the last patient I had today is a member of our team. He works in the burial team, one of the saddest and hardest jobs at this time.
However, we can’t stop reminding ourselves that it is too early to claim victory. We know other centers were in this situation months ago, only to be flooded again with more than 100 patients a few weeks later. Once the situation returns to “normal” in the towns, regular activities tend to resume, of course. Opening borders, markets, schools… with the subsequent increase in movement among cities and countries, increases contact. With this, of course, comes our fear of the infections’ comeback. Any return to normal life will have to be carefully managed.
It is difficult to resist enthusiasm and thoughts: what if we were successful this time? What if we are looking at the potential end of this terrible epidemic- at least up here in the north of Liberia?
I know other management centers in Guinea and Sierra Leone, are still flooded with patients. But today in Foya we allow ourselves some hope and I think that for the first time in my mission I will return back to the base with some sunlight left in the sky and in time for dinner.
Citlali wrote this post from Foya, Liberia, on 29th October 2014.