Komlan Soe

It’s been a year since the height of an Ebola outbreak that ravaged West Africa and kept communities in the United States on high alert.  In Rhode Island, the crisis hit home with a large Liberian and West-African born community.

A group called Ebola Be Gone emerged as a driving force for raising awareness and providing supplies for those affected. One of its leaders, Komlan Soe, joined us in the studio to reflect on how that experience brought his community together and changed his life.

John Bender / RIPR

Members of Rhode Island’s Liberian community are cheering news that the last Ebola patient in Liberia has been released. But many remain concerned about the future of Liberia.

Matthew Kai is the leader of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Providence.  His congregation is primarily Liberian.  Kai led them through months of anxiety at the height of the Ebola outbreak.  He says things have quieted down since then… but now he fears world aid will evaporate

Timothy Flanigan

A Rhode Island doctor has just returned from Liberia where for three months he trained health care workers fighting the deadly Ebola virus. Dr. Timothy Flanigan is one of several Rhode Islanders who have traveled to the West African nation to fight the disease that the World Health Organization estimates to have killed some 6500 people.

Shortly after arriving back home, he sat down with me to talk about what he saw and where he sees hope.

You can listen to our conversation here.

Nursing homes across Rhode Island will be collecting donations to help fight Ebola in West Africa. That’s because, the state’s nursing home association recognized a need to help its large community of West African workers.

Hospitals have gotten most of the attention when it comes to Ebola preparedness. But at a recent hearing for state lawmakers, questions were raised about the readiness of community-based health care providers to deal with the threat. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island health officials have unveiled the state’s Ebola emergency response plan. The plan spells out the steps state agencies will take to handle potential cases.

Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island is home to one of the nation’s largest Liberian populations, and many Liberian immigrants are students in the state's public schools and universities.

As the Ebola epidemic rages on in her home country, Rhode Island Public Radio education reporter Elisabeth Harrison sat down with Rhode Island College student Charline Early to find out how it has changed life for her and her family.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Ebola continues to dominate headlines, across the nation and here in Rhode Island. This week the state’s hospitals began conducting Ebola preparedness exercises, and all eyes are on a nurse in Maine who defied a quarantine order. But for the thousands of Liberians living in Rhode Island, the real stories are unfolding, often tragically, back home. Now, many Liberians say the public’s fear of Ebola is affecting daily life.

The Rhode Island health department says it’s conducting exercises with hospitals to test their readiness for Ebola patients.

In a weekly update to reporters, state health officials say there are no cases of Ebola in Rhode Island, although they have investigated – and ruled out – "a number of" possible cases since August.

The Nebraska Medical Center

There were times when Ashoka Mukpo didn’t know if he would survive Ebola. Mukpo spent about two and a half weeks in a Nebraska hospital after coming down with Ebola while working as a freelance cameraman in Liberia

He is now back home in Providence.

Mukpo said even thought his symptoms got worse, he knew he was in good hands. After about twelve days he could see in his doctors’ eyes that he was probably going to make it.  “I felt that it was manageable, I never felt serious panic coming from any of the nurses,” he said. “So I felt that I was in relatively good hands.”

The Rhode Island Department of Health says it’s currently monitoring several recent arrivals from West Africa to guard against Ebola. But some members of the West African community want the health department to do more.

Citing safety concerns, Brown University has restricted university-sponsored travel to countries in the grips of the Ebola outbreak. The university strongly urged professors and students to avoid personal travel as well, to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Taylor Wilson / Nebraska Medical Center

The Rhode Islander diagnosed with Ebola is asking the public to give him space and privacy as he leaves a Nebraska hospital today and heads home to Providence. Ashoka Mukpo spent two and a half weeks in isolation to treat the deadly virus.

Doctors at The Nebraska Medical Center said age was the main factor as to why the 33-year-old recovered more quickly than the Massachusetts doctor whom they also treated.

At a press conference, University of Nebraska Medical Center chancellor Dr. Jeffrey Gold read a statement by Mukpo filled with gratitude for his medical care.


The Rhode Islander who was the fifth American to return to the US to be treated for Ebola, is virus-free. Doctors say he will be released from isolation this morning.

A union representing thousands of nurses in Rhode Island released the results of a member survey about hospital preparedness on Monday. About 360 members responded. And the union says half said they hadn’t received any formal communications about Ebola preparations from their hospitals. 92 percent said they weren’t sure whether they had – or didn’t have - the proper equipment to protect themselves. But hospitals say they’re doing all they can to keep workers safe.