With files from
Jeff Nagel, Black Press
Rossland nurse, Patrice Gordon returned home to B.C. on Christmas Day following four weeks in Sierra Leone aiding the fight against the Ebola virus. Upon arrival back on home soil Gordon began her three-week self-isolation period in a Kelowna hotel. Part way through the lock down she developed a fever and drove herself to the Kelowna General Hospital, the level two Ebola facility for inland B.C.
The Rossland nurse was released from an isolation unit at the Kelowna hospital on the first day of the New Year, after three tests for Ebola, over a 72-hour period, came back negative.
Gordon is one of 24 Canadian Red Cross workers who have travelled to West Africa to help with the Ebola crisis and she is now weighing up her options to return. With her skills and training, Gordon feels she has a lot to offer and is seriously considering the implications both ways.
A return back to West Africa would mean an additional seven weeks away from her home in Rossland. Four weeks in country and then the mandatory three weeks in isolation.
Gordon explains this time away is toughest for her family. Her three adult sons were “not impressed” with her decision to go on the mission in the first place and were “very worried” to learn she was in hospital being tested for Ebola.
Seeing your family member go off into a risky mission while you are stuck at home with no control over the situation is usually the hardest place to be in these scenarios. However Gordon believes her family can see beyond this and know the cause is valuable and close to Gordon’s heart.
“They would support it, they are proud of me for what I am doing and they worry, it is so much harder to be the people that stay behind,” she said.
Gordon is open to the location she is posted to within West Africa but says that returning to Sierra Leone would be favourable in order to work alongside the aid staff she had previously met.
“Our multi-national Red Cross group is one of the finest collections of people on the planet. The support, fun, mutual concern, and expertise are amazing to see. To watch so many people working so hard to fight against Ebola is a privilege. I am witnessing humanity at its best,” recounted Gordon.
Gordon spoke of her first hand experience and seeing medicine making a difference in peoples’ lives where she had the opportunity to see modern medicine making people better.
“We see people get better, we see a lot die, but people defiantly get better, it’s incredible. An interesting thing I learnt (from being in Sierra Leone), is that I saw the best of humanity and how much goodness and positivity — you feel like you are making the world a better place,” she said of her aid work.
The Red Cross is opening a second Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) in Kono District, the newest hotspot in Sierra Leone. It is expected to open in early January 2015 and will accommodate 20 patients initially.
The Red Cross will continue operating its three other Ebola treatment centres in West Africa, including one in Kenema, Sierra Leone where the majority of Canadian healthcare workers have been stationed.
15 local staff and 15 nursing staff have been reallocated from the Red Cross ETC in Kenema to Kono to ensure rapid scale-up of the unit.
The treatment centre in Kenema has admitted 457 patients since it opened in September; 205 patients have been discharged. The Red Cross is expecting fewer patients at the Kono treatment centre due to progress being made in curbing the spread of the disease in this district.
Ebola has affected more than 20,000 people since March in the three hardest-hit countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and also in Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.