UMMS colleagues describe dedication of Richard Sacra

Third U.S. doctor to contract Ebola returned to Liberia to continue his mission

By Ellie Castano and Bryan Goodchild

UMass Medical School Communications

September 04, 2014

When news broke that Richard Sacra, MD, was the third American health care worker to contract Ebola while providing care in West Africa, his colleagues at UMass Medical School were heartsick but unsurprised that he had chosen to return to Liberia in the midst of a crisis that is overburdening an already fragile health care system.

Dr. Sacra is assistant professor of family medicine & community health, a member of the medical staff at the Worcester Family Health Center and of the Department of Family Medicine & Community Health at UMass Memorial Medical Center. He returned to Liberia on Aug. 4 after two of his colleagues at the ELWA Hospital were forced to return to the U.S. for treatment upon being infected with Ebola. Sacra, a 1989 graduate of the UMMS School of Medicine, has spent much of the past 20 years practicing medicine in Liberia and chose to return there when he learned of the acute need for health care workers and the deteriorating conditions at ELWA Hospital.

Warren Ferguson, MD, professor of family medicine & community health, has known Dr. Sacra for more than 20 years and spoke at a press conference of Sacra’s dedication to his work as a medical missionary.

“He is the consummate family physician. Not only is he incredibly bright, incredibly skilled with his hands . . . but he is also just a wonderful human being who is committed to his passion around missionary life, but also in his spiritual life is incredibly devoted to combining spirituality with medicine,” said Dr. Ferguson.

“He specifically trained at a residency program in Tennessee to learn several procedural skills that would be important to him as a missionary family physician abroad,” said Ferguson.

Virginia Van Duyne, MD, assistant professor of family medicine & community health, has known Sacra since she was very young and she babysat for his children. He served as one of her inspirations for wanting to become a physician herself and served as her mentor when she completed her residency at UMMS.

“He’s been influential to me becoming the kind of doctor that I am,” said Dr. Van Duyne. As a medical student, she spent months working beside him in Liberia at ELWA Hospital.

“He definitely brought his amazing physical exam skills, his wonderful bedside manner, his eye for the unusual in figuring out exactly what the diagnosis is. The residents and medical students have benefitted greatly from him,” said Van Duyne.

Members of the UMMS community who would like to help health care workers providing care in Liberia may contact:

  • SIM USA, P.O. Box 7900, Charlotte, NC  28241. Donations can be designated for the “ELWA Hospital Transition Project.” Donations can be made online by visiting https://web.simusa.org/Give/projects.php.
  • Ebola Relief Fund for Liberia at UMass Medical School, c/o UMass Medicine Development Office, 333 South Street, Shrewsbury, MA 01545. Donations can be made online by visiting https://w3.umassmed.edu/onlinedonation.   

See full coverage of the press conference held at UMass Medical School in the video above.

To see other coverage about Sacra, visit:

Colleagues describe doctor
WCVB Channel 5 Boston – September 3, 2014

Latest American Infected With Ebola Virus Wasn't Deterred by Dangers
Wall Street Journal – September 3, 2014

Holden man is third American doctor infected with Ebola
WHDH Channel 7 Boston – September 3, 2014

Medical Colleagues ‘In Awe’ Of Ebola Victim Rick Sacra
WBZ-TV Channel 4 Boston – September 3, 2014

Colleagues say Dr. Sacra was prepared to help
WHDH Channel 7 Boston – September 4, 2014

Colleagues 'Scared' for a 'Wonderful Human Being'
BostInno – September 3, 2014

UMass Medical School colleagues laud Sacra
Boston Globe – September 3, 2014

Mass. Doctor Contracts Ebola in Liberia
Boston.com – September 3, 2014

Colleagues of Doctor With Ebola Hope for Recovery
NECN – September 3, 2014

Third US doctor infected with Ebola identified as Mass. Man
WFXT Fox 25 Boston – September 3, 2014

Mass. Doctor Working In Liberia Diagnosed With Ebola
WBUR – September 3, 2014

Group Identifies 3rd American with Ebola as Mass. Doctor
WGGB Fox 6 Springfield – September 3, 2014

Holden doctor contracts Ebola while working in Liberia
Worcester Telegram & Gazette – September 3, 2014

Colleagues of Dr. With Ebola Speak
Comcast Sportsnet – September 3, 2014

Holden Doctor latest Ebola Victim, UMass Doctors React
Worcester News Tonight – September 3, 2014

Mass. doctor is third from US with Ebola virus
Boston Globe – September 3, 2014

Holden doctor, a dedicated missionary and physician, contracts Ebola in Liberia
Masslive.com – September 4, 2014

Holden man, UMass affiliated doctor contracts Ebola
Masslive.com – September 3, 2014

Central Massachusetts doctor identified as 3rd physician to contract Ebola in Liberia
Masslive.com – September 3, 2014

Massachusetts Doctor Contracts Ebola
NECN – September 3, 2014

Massachusetts Doctor Infected With Ebola in West Africa
ABC News – September 3, 2014

Massachusetts Doctor Infected With Ebola In Liberia
WBZ Channel 4 Boston – September 3, 2014

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