“We’re right here to assist. We’re right here to heal. And above all, we’re right here to supply hope,” mentioned Well being Companies Administrator Cmdr. David Lau from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Well being Service Corps (IHSC). Lau’s phrases sum up the message and mission of the U.S. Public Well being Service (USPHS) officers who deployed to Liberia on the peak of the Ebola epidemic to cease the unfold of the lethal illness.
4 totally different USPHS groups responded to the decision and joined hundreds of U.S. civilians and navy members, in addition to people from the worldwide neighborhood, to comprise this quickly spreading, typically deadly, illness. Six IHSC USPHS officers deployed in help of this Ebola mission and on Sept. 29 at ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C., they recounted their experiences.
“I couldn’t really feel any higher about being an ICE Well being Service Corps member than I do as we speak,” mentioned Capt. Luzviminda Peredo-Berger, IHSC Deputy Assistant Director of Scientific Companies and Medical Director, who gave opening remarks.
ICE Deputy Director Dan Ragsdale said in his remarks that IHSC personnel are very similar to ICE federal regulation enforcement officers and brokers, in that regardless of the hazard, “they see an issue and run towards it.”
Every of the members of the panel dialogue spoke of their experiences in Liberia. The panel included: Cmdr. Lau, well being companies administrator; Lt.Cmdr. Eric Cartagena, area medical coordinator; Lt. Cmdr. Stephanie Daniels, scientific pharmacist; Lt. Cmdr. Tiffany Moore, an infection management program lead and Lt. Jennifer Freiman, public well being analyst. IHSC Personnel Unit Chief Capt. Diedre Presley, IHSC personnel unit chief additionally participated and mentioned the method of acclimating deployed crew members again to their lives as soon as they returned residence.
“We have been coping with an endemic with a 50 % casualty fee,” mentioned Cmdr. Lau. “We have been scared. Situations have been horrifying with folks dying within the streets and concern rampant. Clinicians too, have been dying.”
However working as a crew with one mission, they acquired busy, first working with the U.S. Navy Seabees, who constructed a specialised Ebola therapy unit, the Monrovian Medical Unit (MMU). The USPHS coordinated logistical and useful resource wants with the one hundred and first Airborne Division of the U.S. Military, who flew provides to the MMU. They dived into the “sizzling zone” to deal with sick and dying sufferers with fluids, medicines and diet. They performed lab diagnostics and measured blood counts, electrolytes and different parameters. In humid 100 diploma temperatures, they endured excessive discomfort in layers of non-public protecting tools and took painstaking measures to securely decontaminate and take away it, a time period often called “doffing.”
“At first, I walked slowly, methodically, pondering, wow, I’m in a biosafety degree 4 space,” mentioned Lt. Cmdr. Moore. Worry slipped to the background, nevertheless, when Moore encountered her first affected person. “I didn’t hesitate to succeed in out, maintain her hand and pray along with her,” she mentioned.
In a videotaped interview, Ebola survivor and Liberian nationwide Alvin Davis mentioned that as a result of Ebola was like a dying sentence, there was nice concern and stigma surrounding these in his nation. “If it weren’t for the U.S. Public Well being Service officers and the care on the MMU, I might not be right here as we speak,” he mentioned.
The expertise modified the crew members’ lives.
“The extent of poverty we noticed was unimaginable,” mentioned Lt. Cmdr. Daniels. “I’m grateful for every part now we have on this nation, from working water, electrical energy to paved roads.”
“I thank the nice Lord for bringing me again residence,” mentioned Cmdr. Lau. “And I thank my fellow officers who served with honor and distinction.”
The ICE Health Service Corps serves because the medical authority for ICE on a variety of medical points, together with the company’s complete detainee well being care program. ICE Well being Service Corps employees consists of greater than 900 U.S. Public Well being Service commissioned officers, federal civil servants and contract help employees. The U.S. Public Well being Service Commissioned Corps is one in every of seven uniformed companies of america. It’s made up of 6,700 uniformed officers who’re highly-trained, networked and cell medical and public well being professionals.