TIME Person of the Year is the Ebola Responder

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TIME Person of the Year is the Ebola Responder

Heroic Nurses

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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The perception of nurses in the mass media is often problematic, so it’s nice to see an outlet as big as TIME magazine get it right. The magazine recently announced that its choice for 2014 Person of the Year is the responders to the Ebola crisis, including nurses.

This recognition is well-deserved because the providers and volunteers courageous enough to treat this dreaded disease risk becoming Ebola victims themselves. To date, more than 600 doctors and nurses have contracted Ebola and more than 300 have died.

Blaming Nurses

Even those who’ve been more fortunate have faced fear and suspicion. Kaci Hickox, RN, BSN, MPH, who volunteered to treat Ebola in Sierra Leone, returned to the U.S. only to be confined to a New Jersey isolation tent. Despite having no symptoms and testing negative for the disease, she had to resort to legal action to challenge not one but two zealous quarantine orders.

After Amber Vinson Finch, RN, and Nina Pham, RN, CCRN, became infected with Ebola while treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan, they faced harsh criticism from health officials, who questioned the nurses’ professional judgment and adherence to protocol. It must have been devastating to have to battle a very lethal disease while also fighting to defend your good name. Fortunately, both nurses made a full recovery, were exonerated and eventually got an apology from the director of the CDC.

Despite those challenges, nurses continue to step forward. “The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight,” wrote TIME.   


Working Nurse Fatu KekulaHeroic Nursing Student Comes to the U.S.

Fatu Kekula saved her family from Ebola using an IV drip, plastic trash bags and her own ingenuity

by Aaron Severson

Of all the stories of nursing heroism emerging from the current Ebola crisis, few are as remarkable as that of Fatu Kekula. Last summer, this 22-year-old Liberian nursing student almost single-handedly saved her parents and older sister from this deadly disease. Now, Kekula will continue her nursing education in America.

A Makeshift Hospital

A resident of Kakata, Liberia, Kekula was a nursing student at Cuttington University, the only school in Liberia to offer four-year nursing degrees. Last summer, Kekula’s entire immediate family — her father, Moses; her mother, Victoria; her older sister, Vivian; and her cousin, Alfred Winnie — became infected with Ebola. After being turned away by several hospitals, Kekula had no choice but to set up her own makeshift facility to treat her family at home.

With telephone advice from a local physician, Kekula established a care plan, improvised quarantine protocols and created her own protective equipment using a raincoat and plastic trash bags. Her efforts kept her family alive until space became available at a nearby hospital about two weeks later. Her cousin subsequently died of the disease, but the rest of the family made a full recovery. Kekula also avoided becoming infected herself.

Her Education Continues

Around the time the Kekula family’s ordeal began, the Liberian government shut down schools and universities in hopes of limiting the spread of Ebola. Cuttington University was among those closed and it remains unclear when the university will reopen.

With the help of Chicago-based charity iAMProjects Inc., which supports education in sub-Saharan Africa, Kekula began applying to nursing schools outside Liberia. She has been admitted for the spring 2015 semester at Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing in Atlanta. IAMProjects has so far raised $40,000 to fund her educational, housing and travel expenses

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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