Massachusetts Doctor Cured of Ebola Returning to Liberia
December 22, 2014
A doctor from Massachusetts who came down with Ebola while volunteering in Liberia will return to West Africa in January to resume medical work, the missionary group he works with said on Wednesday..
Rick Sacra, 52, recovered from Ebola under treatment in September at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He was one of three American health workers for Christian missionary groups who came down with Ebola in Liberia and were flown to the United States for treatment.
Sacra will go back to Liberia for about a month and will treat patients with problems other than Ebola, freeing up other health workers to focus on Ebola, the SIM missionary group said in a statement.
Dr. Richard Sacra said that he plans to spend four weeks at ELWA Hospital, a clinic outside Monrovia where he had contracted the deadly virus in August.
Sacra spent weeks in treatment at an Omaha, Nebraska, hospital before returning home on Sept. 25. The University of Massachusetts Medical School faculty member has worked in medical missions in Liberia for more than 20 years, including the North Carolina-based charity SIM, which founded ELWA Hospital.
Sacra, who was one of at least 10 people so far treated for Ebola in the U.S., says he "feels great" and that doctors have said he's now effectively immune to Ebola, which has no vaccine..
"I'm not hearing a lot of pushback from home," Sacra said. "I've been working there for years, and my risk at this point is no different than it was before because I'm immune to Ebola."
Sacra has said he's not sure exactly when he became infected. He had been caring for pregnant women not suspected to have Ebola and delivering babies, including performing several cesarean sections.
He said ELWA Hospital, which stands for Eternal Love Winning Africa, has changed its protocols following his illness.
"Even if we haven't suspected Ebola in that patient, we're now wearing full protective gear at our facility for deliveries," he said. "When we're doing surgeries, we're now getting bleached down at the end, which we weren't doing before."
Sacra, who expressed a desire to return to Liberia almost as soon as he recovered, made the comments following a Tuesday news conference at the Statehouse announcing a $1 million state grant to help develop a faster, more accurate test for diagnosing Ebola.
Gov. Deval Patrick said the investment, made through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a quasi-public state agency, will assure the state and its major research institutions will play a central role in saving many lives from Ebola, which has killed 6,400 people during the most recent outbreak in West Africa.
Source: By CBS News