Week after week the death toll steadily increased last fall, sparking panic and terror in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as the Ebola virus disease outbreak became the second deadliest in history.
Samaritan’s Purse had been working in the northeast region of the DRC months prior to the first Ebola cases. We started community awareness campaigns and helped to educate people on Ebola symptoms and how to prevent the infection from spreading.
Finally we learned that Ebola had made its way to the area where we’ve operated a country office for eight years. Something radical—a bold step of faith—had to be done quickly to battle the dreaded virus.
An Ebola Treatment Center, part of our Emergency Field Hospital, was transported to Africa in November of 2018 aboard our DC-8 cargo plane and prepositioned for quick deployment. Yet, an army of people would need to work together to make it operational.
A Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), comprised of professionals from across the United States and our international affiliate offices, headed out the day after Christmas.
The DART included medical and non-medical staff who worked hard to set up tents; build patients wards; determine staff lodging; inventory supplies; and manage water, sanitation, and hygiene needs.
Our teams were up early in the morning and sometimes worked through the night so that the 18-bed center would be ready for patients in only about two weeks. The center can be expanded to 54 beds if needed, and patients are cared for in an isolation unit until lab results indicate whether they have been infected with Ebola.
“The team has been amazing,” said John Troke, operations manager in the DRC. “You have logistics, human resources, finance, and medical—but everyone pitches in. All of our staff did whatever needed to be done, even building the clinic.”
The local community also came together to help build the center, including Mumbere Kombi, whose sister died of Ebola.
“When one has lost a member of their family to Ebola, that is the person who understands well that Ebola is real,” he said. “Thank you for bringing well-equipped people to help us stop this epidemic of Ebola.”
As our teams prepared for the center to open, they diligently trained in infection protection and control and how to don their personal protective equipment. Congolese staff hired from local communities were also trained.
Staff participated in a simulation to help them practice caring for Ebola patients.
They also prepared by praying for the patients who would come to the center and praying over every bed in the patient wards.
“These people are God’s creation and He loves them,” said nurse Emily Way. “We are called to have no fear in love and no fear in following the Lord’s will— relying on Him as our refuge and safety.”
Although the deadly virus has a fatality rate of about 60 percent, supportive care and other interventions can decrease case mortality.
“We are called to have no fear in love and no fear in following the Lord’s will— relying on Him as our refuge and safety.”
“You have to remember what God has in mind for us—sharing love, showing compassion, and supporting the family during the whole process,” said Kelly Suter, clinical director.
Every patient who comes to our Ebola Treatment Center receives expert and compassionate clinical care. Most important, they have an opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our Ebola Treatment Center opened in Komanda on Jan. 17, 2019. Please pray for the eradication of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Pray for God to save lives and to bring many people to saving faith in His Son.