New Ebola holding center opens in Ganta City

Clinics that were part of the United Methodist hospital facilities here are now a holding center for patients believed to have Ebola.

In response to criticisms about slow government action in fighting the outbreak, the government opened the center in two buildings that formerly held eye and fistula clinics.

ArcelorMittal, a steel and mining company with a presence in more than 60 countries, refurbished the two buildings at a cost of $42,000. The company made the improvements at the request of Fong Zuagele, the Nimba County superintendent.

Prayaga Sreenivas Prasad, general manager and chief technical officer of AcelorMittal, said his company was glad to support the Liberian government in its fight against the Ebola virus.

“We will stand with you in every way possible to this virus and if possible kick it out of Liberia,” Prasad said, pledging the company’s support in any lifesaving venture. Prasad spoke at a ceremony during which keys to the refurbished buildings were given to county officials.

“I wish the county did not have to use these facilities for the Ebola virus,” Prasad said.

Zuagele thanked AML officials for refurbishing the facilities and thanked The United Methodist Church for making the buildings available to the county.

“This hospital is the heartbeat of this county when it comes to providing health services in this part of Liberia,” the superintendent said. He said The United Methodist Church’s Ganta Hospital and the staff are a shining example of what a health facility should be in times of crisis.

The hospital remained open throughout the Ebola virus outbreak even in the absence of adequate protective gear, Zuagele said.

Musu Duworko, a World Health Organization representative who was at the ceremony, said the outbreak is worsening in Nimba County due several factors — including persistent denial by the people of the county that there is a problem.

She said that as of Sept. 13, there had been 135 Ebola cases in the county with 91 deaths. In addition, she said there had been about 600 contacts that health workers or Ebola Task Force members could not easily trace to ensure early treatment.

Duworko said WHO was committed working with the Nimba County Health Team to staff the holding center with trained personnel and to provide adequate protective gear.

“We do not want to lose any more health workers in this fight against the Ebola virus,” she said.

Swen is a communicator in Liberia.

News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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