Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Filing Dispatches from the Valley of Death

Ebola Reporting Nothing Short of Heart-Rending, Courageous

Ebola has certainly grabbed its share of headlines over the last month, though I suspect it was still viewed with detachment by most Americans. That is, until yesterday, when word came of a Liberian man holed up in an isolation ward in a Dallas hospital. Now it's no longer one of those "African" problems, you know the kind that get a short mention in the wire briefs buried in a newspaper.

Fortunately, some media have ignored the xenophobia and have told the Ebola story with compelling renderings that provide the context for why thousands of foreign doctors and soldiers are pouring into Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to treat the afflicted and stop the virus's spread. It gives you some hope. But just as quickly you realize just what it is they are up against. And soon the hope begins to ebb.

That was my feeling after reading today's story from Adam Nossiter in The New York Times from a forlorn (is there any other) district in Sierra Leone, where he visited what the headline aptly calls "A Hospital from Hell."

“Where’s the corpse?” the burial-team worker shouted, kicking open the door of the isolation ward at the government hospital here. The body was right in front of him, a solidly built young man sprawled out on the floor all night, his right hand twisted in an awkward clench.
The other patients, normally padlocked inside, were too sick to look up as the body was hauled away. Nurses, some not wearing gloves and others in street clothes, clustered by the door as pools of the patients’ bodily fluids spread to the threshold. A worker kicked another man on the floor to see if he was still alive. The man’s foot moved and the team kept going. It was 1:30 in the afternoon.

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