1. Discuss the roles and experiences of the healthcare workers in TIME magazine’s 2014 Person of the Year issue
Although most of the healthcare workers fighting the Ebola pandemic had experience in some facet of medicine, the frontline was mostly composed of ordinary clinic workers, physicians, and volunteers – who were either working in local hospitals/clinics or serving with charitable/religious organizations aiding Africa at the time – who wanted to help infected communities. For example; Dr.Jerry Brown (medical director at ELWA Hospital) and his medical team, along with many other doctors and nurses, weren’t healthcare workers specifically trained or equipped to fight the Ebola epidemic but those who were left with no practical or moral alternative. Other healthcare workers included Dr.Debbie Eisenhut (a doctor serving with SIM), Dr.John Fankhauser (a family physician from California), Dr.Kent Bradley (physician serving in a Christian relief group), Ella Watson-Stryker (MSF health promoter), Foday Gallah (ambulance supervisor), and many others. These healthcare workers spearheaded the fight against Ebola and had duties including but not limited to performing diagnostic tests, treating and hydrating symptomatic patients, disinfecting places of inhabitance and contaminated objects, contract-tracing other potentially infected patients, quarantining the infected, and repeatedly trying to make public health notices to citizens – all in spite of increased medical skepticism, dishonesty to medical questioning, and even violent protests opposing medical and/or foreign aide. These healthcare workers were frequently ill-equipped and understaffed, and even had to make personal pleas to prevent their existing personnel from leaving. In addition, many workers endured 12-14 hour shifts 6 days a week wearing fully-insulated suits in 90-degree weather. Nelson Sayon, a motorbike taxi servicemen, voluntarily joined a burial team transporting infected corpses and his vehicle was repeatedly pelted with rocks by fearful locals.
2. Do you think the healthcare workers should have done anything differently?
Many healthcare workers fell ill and unfortunately died to the fatal infection they treated; resulting in an understandable fear and subsequent resignation of medical staff. In the wake of the deaths of fellow staff members and colleagues, many institutions were forced to close in the face of ever-growing needs. Given the shortage of not only medical supplies, wards, and even proper training, I believe healthcare workers have done an exemplary job with their allocated (and meager) resources. However, international medical organizations, namely the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, were notably sluggish and passive in the wake of much death and suffering at the hands of a highly contagious and fatal virus. Local WHO offices in West Africa initially turned away the aide of CDC experts – a move that singlehandedly struck down teamwork initiatives as well as cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars to the Ebola epidemic. Repeatedly, international responses from the U.N. failed to rise to the demands with the urgency that was required of them. Should anything be done differently, it would undoubtedly be a more fastidious medical response at an international scale to the suffering of West Africans and the completely overwhelmed and overworked medical volunteers in afflicted regions.
3. What can be learned from the healthcare workers that should be applied to future similar scenarios?
The lessons that healthcare workers taught the world in the face of the Ebola epidemic are primarily ones of readiness, prevention, fear and suspicion, and gratitude. Much of the death resulting from the Ebola epidemic could have been avoided with proper and early medical readiness (referring to staffing, supplies, wards, knowledgeability, and formal organized aide) as repeatedly documented in the article. There were also many medical interventions (vaccines and treatments) that were never adequately funded, tested, or produced for drug trials until disaster struck. Another issue that greatly plagued the epidemic efforts were the superstitions of local people towards foreigners and doctors – which greatly hindered relief efforts both abroad and even in America. Lastly, healthcare workers have displayed immense courage, compassion, and humanity in undertaking a very terrifying and daunting foe that threatened not only their community, but also their own health and safety and that of their families. In spite of such seemingly insurmountable odds, and in the face of open resistance from the patients they cared for, the Ebola fighters are TIME’s 2014 person of the year for their commitment and dedication to fulfilling a role that risked a horrible death and offered no tangible reward – which we can only hope sets a precedent for any future scenarios.
2.Do you think the healthcare workers should have done anything differently?
The involvement of healthcare professionals in containing outbreaks is crucial. The bravery and commitment of healthcare professionals who put themselves in danger to treat Ebola patients are highlighted in the article. This demonstrates how crucial a role healthcare professionals have in reacting to pandemics and outbreaks and the dedication and foreseen activity done by Dr.Brown was highly appreciated.
The committed work of all the nurses, doctors and the local people is a team effort and thereby providing the knowledge to the people about prevention and safety during ebola.
The team of MSF along with Watson-Stryker roamed most of the remote areas and try to educate them about the safety instructions , which was important in those types of pandemics in order to avoid the social stigma surrounding that.
The tenacity and bravery of the medical professionals that spearheaded the Ebola outbreak. The article highlights how these professionals made major sacrifices, including being away from their families, working long hours, and risking infection themselves, to care for people who were infected with the virus. They persevered in their attempts to save lives and give comfort to people in need despite these obstacles.
Further involvement of international health societies and WHO has make the issue and world emergency and worked on that in order to safeguard the people from that pandemic. According to the article even though by the time the WHO responds the disease had already reached its peaks.
The work that healthcare workers don ein the very remote areas of africa\a with very limited resources was highly thought provoking and very well appreciated.
1. Roles and Experiences of healthcare workers:
Initially doctors had more questions than answers for people showing up to hospitals because apart from reading about Ebola in textbooks they were completely in the dark living through the epidemic. As the conditions worsened, a state of panic spread throughout healthcare facilities and hospitals because the frontline workers and hospital staff had no idea how to deal with swathes of incoming patients. The lack of financial capability to build adequate containment and treatment facilities or to buy extra beds for the ones that were at full capacity only worsened the situation. They had no plan on how and where to keep the infected or how to treat them. Public pandemonium exacerbated the scenario where doctors, nurses and healthcare workers were under immense pressure trying to provide reassurance to patients that they were in safe hands and that they would be given the best possible care. Healthcare professionals were under extreme amounts of stress trying to keep themselves and fellow hospital personnel safe form being infected themselves. They were subject to inhuman levels of psychological distress and trauma because of all the death that surrounded them. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers were so taken aback by the situation that they developed a sense of guilt among themselves for not being able to do anything even though what was happening around them was beyond their ability as one person. Families of healthcare workers suffered as well trying to take care of their loved ones working on the frontlines as well as trying to keep the ones at home safe.
2. What healthcare workers could do differently:
- Improving crisis management strategies.
- Providing a global outreach platform for the general public to address Ebola related concerns.
- Establish healthcare facilities with proper equipment and adequate staff capable of handling the situation.
- Increasing diagnosis and diagnostic related facilities.
- Recruiting personnel to manage newly established facilities.
- Creating increased awareness among public about the pandemic (spread, symptoms, safety measures) for people to follow.
- Making sure healthcare personnel are properly trained to handle overbearing patient load.
- Focusing on educating people, especially from poor backgrounds about the do’s and don’ts during a pandemic.
- Allocating/redirecting resources both in the form of public volunteers and capital necessary to procure medical and safety equipment.
- For organizations like CDC, WHO and Ministry of Health to take increased responsibility.
- Planning and devoting enough resources to vaccine research and large-scale production.
- Issuance of improved guidelines by the CDC, Ministry of Health or the WHO in parallel with research findings.
- No gaslighting public about the extent and severity of the situation.
- Governments should be proactive in providing necessary resources to their people and devise efficient strategies through effectively communicating with the scientific research community.
3. Things to take away from healthcare workers to apply for future scenarios:
In times of unsurmountable odds stacked against them, healthcare workers showed grit and dedication towards their responsibility to help those in need. They stood up for something bigger than themselves in the face of the pandemic through a heroic display of courage. Frontline workers who worked alongside doctors were driven solely by an instinct to provide for others. To prepare ourselves for the probability of a scenario like this in the future, we need to have preparedness measures in place. We need to be more methodic in trying to contain the spread of infection by identifying and isolating primary contacts and when this fails, we need to promptly inform local authorities that the infection is spreading and that they need to work in concert with nearby hospitals to make sure all the necessary provisions are allocated towards delivering optimal care.