The physicians, nurses, and other staff who care for patients with Ebola are all heroes. They put their lives on the line, daily, to try to save others. And they do so while wearing head to toe protective gear for hours in the tropical heat
[H]ealth workers need special training to avoid infection and must wear several layers of protective clothing — gowns, masks, goggles, boots, gloves and waterproof aprons or coveralls. The gear is suffocatingly hot and people can tolerate it for only so long in the tropics. The masks can fog up, making a risky business of, say, inserting an intravenous line or drawing blood. Another peril can come from taking off the protective gear, which must be removed according to a strict protocol.
Under such conditions, it has been difficult to find health care workers willing to tend to Ebola victims.
Early this month at a hospital in Sierra Leone, Dr. Daniel Bausch and another physician found themselves alone in a ward with 55 patients infected with the deadly Ebola virus. The nurses had walked out in a dispute over extra pay to take care of the Ebola patients, and some were also staying away for fear of contracting the disease, which has killed health workers.
Dr. Bausch and his colleague, both working for the World Health Organization, did what they could.
“Even if you wanted to be the hero, you couldn’t take care of 55 people,” he said. “We tried to attend to the most important things we could attend to in terms of people who were the sickest. To be honest, it sounds terrible, not really the sickest, but the sickest who you think have chances of surviving.