Saturday will mark the one year anniversary for treatment of the Ebola virus at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha. Biocontainment Medical Director Dr. Phil Smith says the unit prepared for ten years for that opportunity to help someone in need.
Dr. Smith says, “it has been exciting, exhausting but basically what we’ve been working for ten years to get in a position to be ready. And then when our country called on us and we delivered that was a terrific honor. It was a great experience to work with all these other wonderful people, our staff who put up with the risks and were very professional and very caring.”
Dr. Rick Sacra arrived at Nebraska Medicine on September 5, 2014 suffering from the Ebola virus. Biocontainment Nurse Manager Kate Boulter recalls how she felt weeks later when he tested Ebola free. She says, “The day we got the all-clear and no Ebola virus, Shelly (Schwedhelm) and I were out in the conference room and we cried and hugged each other. It was so heartwarming, not only for our patient but our staff, we had made a difference.”
Dr. Smith says for the next five years they are involved in research and educating the country. He says Nebraska Medicine is a go-to hospital for the education and care of Ebola.
Shelly Schwedhelm is the Executive Director of Emergency Preparedness and Infectious Diseases at Nebraska Medicine and says this is really no longer about Ebola. She says there will be many unusual things to prepare for in the future to plan and prepare for and that is their mission at this point.
Nebraska Medicine’s Biocontainment unit also successfully treated journalist Ashoka Mukpo. In November, Dr. Martin Salia arrived in Omaha extremely ill and passed away a short time later. Four other health care workers exposed to the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone were observed at Nebraska Medicine earlier this year but did not develop the illness.