The deputy matron at the government hospital in Kenema Josephine Finda Sellu has called on the government and Non Governmental Organizations to immediately come to the aid of the District Health Management Team (DHMT) in Kenema to deal with the Ebola virus in the country. She made this appeal while speaking to the press at her office at the government hospital compound. She says since May 25th 2014 when the Ebola issue broke out in the eastern part of the country, they as health workers have suffered a lot in trying to handle the situation. She explained that the first index case that came in to the country by passing through Sokoma village bordering with Guinea killed the MCHAID nurse that played with the first case at Koindu Kissy Teng chiefdom in Kailahun district. She passed away in Daru town after contracting the disease, and the Traditional Birth Attendance (TBA) who took care of the MCHAID in Daru was brought to Kenema, and she came in with incomplete abortion. She was in the ward for some days and the nurses later detected continuous bleeding on her. Her blood sample she explained was immediately collected and later proved to be Ebola positive as the first case collected in the ward. The second case was picked at Annex ward after the nurses have played with the first ward case and the third case was also picked up at ward two – all proved to be Ebola positive.
She further revealed that four (4) health workers have lost their lives as a result of the Ebola virus.
The Matron disclosed that the Ebola management centre that has been under construction is completed and commissioned, and can now host up to thirty (30) beds. She said the center is going to be managed by health workers whom she said have little ideas about Ebola virus management, explaining that the nurses lack knowledge on handling the Ebola infection, how to suspect and how to manage the cases. She described the condition as unfortunate as the health workers at the case management side are at high risk.
She thanked Tulane University for slightly throwing in some assistance by training some health workers like the doctors, matron and lab superintendent in the management of Ebola cases, and later gave similar training to 17 nurses, but she says the number is too small as compared to the influx of patients to the hospital. Thirty beds for 17 nurses are not enough for the pressure of work available at the management centre she complained.
She says most of the confirmed cases in Kenema were picked up from the wards and she is therefore calling for the immediate training of the entire health workers in the region and the nation as a whole as Kenema is the centre of excellence for Ebola in the sub region.
The Matron says the World Health Organization (WHO) representative sent to Kenema Dr. Tum from Geneva has also expressed the need for all health workers to be knowledgeable about the Ebola virus, cautioning that “if not it will be disastrous for the nation.”
She disclosed that a tent has been erected at the entrance of the government hospital compound to screen everybody entering the hospital.
She is also requesting for more Personal Protective Equipment (EPP), risk allowances and some incentives to staff managing the Ebola management centre because of the work load involved. She paid special tribute to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) for their role in helping the situation.
She also called on the general public to maintain universal precaution, as Ebola is real by going along with health advice.
It has been observed that most of the health workers at the government hospital in Kenema are abandoning the hospital for fear of being allocated to the Ebola management centre which one of them told me, is risky and there is no incentive that can give cause to someone to take the risk.