Missoula Physician Returns From Africa With Hope for End to Ebola Epidemic [AUDIO]
Two Missoula health workers returned from a trip to Africa on September 8, after assisting with Ebola patients for three weeks in Sierra Leone.
Infectious disease specialist at St. Patrick Hospital, Dr. George Risi and nurse Kate Hurley left in mid-August to join a multi-national team working with Ebola patients in central Africa.
"We were part of a team that helped to care for about 90 Ebola patients in Kenema Hospital, in Kenema, Sierra Leone," Dr. Risi said. "Our daily census was about 90, and we had five or six new patients every day. My major impression is that this is a disease that is controllable with proper education and medical management. We actually cured from 50 to 60 percent of the patients we treated at our hospital, and that's not something that's emphasized enough. If you provide proper medical care then the patient has a very good chance of pulling through the disease."
Dr. Risi said he was encouraged to hear that President Obama was planning to send 3,000 U.S. military troops to try to control the spread of the disease in Africa.
"Most of what he's doing is sending people to Liberia," he said. "All the other countries in western Africa are also significantly impacted. It's all about timeliness of delivery, how long it will take to get their facilities set up, because this outbreak continues to grow day by day."
Dr. Risi said he sees hopeful signs that the Ebola outbreak in Africa might somehow be controlled.
"The World Health Organization, The Red Cross, and military units are converging on the area, and I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll start to see the curve trending down over the next several weeks to months."