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.
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 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 transmission of Ebola to two Texas nurses has raised concern among health care workers nationwide. And there are concerns as well in Rhode Island.
Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Nurses Association, Donna Policastro, says Rhode Island nurses are worried but well prepared for a potential Ebola outbreak. Policastro says the situation in Dallas has given nurses and hospital officials more reason to plan than panic.
Leaders in Rhode Island’s Liberian community are figuring how to deal with the Ebola outbreak that has just begun to reach U.S. shores. Many Liberians travel between the U.S. and the West African country. The state Department of Health is now asking members of the Liberian population to monitor friends and relatives for signs of symptoms. They're asking people to check their temperature at least twice a day.
It’s not just hospitals in Rhode Island that are preparing for the possible arrival of Ebola cases. The state’s prison system is also getting ready.
The department of corrections is responsible for the health care of more than three thousand inmates on any given day. The institution takes in whomever the justice system sends – regardless of their health. That’s why corrections medical director doctor Fred Vohr says they must be ready for anything.
The Rhode Islander diagnosed with Ebola is being treated with an experimental drug. Ashoka Mukpo is in isolation at the Nebraska Medical Center where doctors are treating him with an experimental antiviral drug called Brindicofovir. This is the drug that is also being used to treat Thomas Eric Duncan, the man in Dallas who is the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S.
The parents of the Rhode Islander diagnosed with Ebola said their son is relieved to be back in the U.S. Ashoka Mukpo arrived Monday morning at a Nebraska hospital for treatment.
Mukpo walked off the plane and was loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher. Once at the hospital, he spoke briefly with his parents through video conference. “His first reaction was, ‘I’m sorry I put you myself through this situation for you guys.’ So his first concerns were more what this would do to us,” said his father, Mitchell Levy.