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.
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 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.