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Ebola stigma rocks Connaught Hospital

OCTOBER 16, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi

Nurses at the Connaught Hospital Ebola isolation center
Nurses at the Connaught Hospital Ebola isolation center

Nurses at the main referral hospital in Freetown have resentfully complained about what they referred to as “complete stigmatization” by their colleagues in the medical profession, claiming that they have been continually marginalized while giving care to Ebola patients at the Connaught Hospital.

It was reported that most of the health personnel at the Ebola isolation centre are not allowed to access other departments within the hospital on the pretext that they would apparently spread the deadly virus among non-Ebola patients and even colleagues; a development they considered unacceptable and unwarranted.

In an exclusive interview with Concord Times, Adella Kombay of the Connaught Isolation Centre said one of the greatest challenges they face is that they are provoked to anger by their colleagues.

She said they have been tirelessly working to save lives but their efforts are being frustrated based on the perception of people that all of those health officials giving care to Ebola patients have the potential of spreading the disease.

“This is very serious and I want the authorities to take it seriously. Some of our relatives have even stopped us from visiting their homes. Also in the hospital, our colleagues are not interacting with us since we started giving care to Ebola patients,” lamented Nurse Kombay.

“Most of my colleagues have been thrown out of their respective residences by their landlords; the situation is very serious and we want government to intervene because if we as Ebola care-givers are not properly treated, we will be left with no option but to resign. And a good number of us are planning to embark on such action.”

She added that though government has been paying them their weekly allowances, yet some authorities have now decided to pay the said allowances after every two weeks.

“We want our colleagues and the general public to know that this [Ebola] isolation center is the safest place because we observe the appropriate precautions. All of this is happening because of lack of information among people. We still need massive sensitization for people to understand how this Ebola disease is being transmitted. We are happy that since we started giving care to Ebola patients in this hospital, none of us has contracted the disease,” she concluded.

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