Fieldset
Diary Day 10 - Thursday

At the moment we have two patients in the isolation ward, a man and a woman. Their tests have come back positive so they have been moved from the two “suspect” rooms into the “confirmed” ward.

At the moment we have two patients in the isolation ward, a man and a woman. Their tests have come back positive so they have been moved from the two “suspect” rooms into the “confirmed” ward. The veranda in front is now functional and we have put two wicker chairs out there so it looks rather smart. The male patient is very determined and every morning gets up and goes and sits outside. Sometimes he makes a fire and sits by it. His brother comes to see him every day and talks over the fence. He has a lovely shiny yellow shirt and a black skullcap.

This morning I went back to see the wife of a man who died from Ebola to give her a ‘Discharge kit’. This is a collection of items that is supposed to replace things that are destroyed in the disinfection process. We give one to every patient’s family. The kit includes a blanket, a bed mat, cup and plate, a bucket, and a towel. We forgot to put in a pair of flip-flops, so they will have to be delivered another day.

Later, Barbara and I went to Luebo to train various people to run the new isolation unit that we have set up there. We have no cases there at the moment - it is just to be prepared. We had about eight nurses and two doctors to show around the isolation wards. I liked the way the training session had worked with the spray teams on Tuesday, so we did the same thing and divided into two groups with one person per group dressing up in the protective clothing.

It all went really well until it came to the disinfection and undressing part. The last person to go through had already seen three people undressing reasonably well, so she should have had some idea how to do it, but it was chaos. Everyone was roaring with laughter and shouting instructions. Her arms were wind-milling all over the place as she tried to get the protective clothing off. What really struck me was how un-human she looked, completely dressed up, making strange jerky movements and impossible to see her face. I saw, really for the first time, how we might be perceived by the patients.

Protective clothing

Photo : P. Zintzen, MSF | MSF staff wear protective clothing during Ebola intervention in the DRC.

We had a barbeque in the evening since a few of our staff are leaving over the next couple of days. There had been a goat in the compound for a day or two and unfortunately it was dinner. There were fantastic double-pronged skewers made of bamboo and I had some rather charred aubergine as the veggie option. The drink was Pastis mixed with tinned pear juice. Very inventive of the party organiser and surprisingly tasty. We should have thought of an appropriate name and patented it.