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UMMS Ebola relief effort ships $1.7M in protective gear for health care workers in Liberia

UMass Medical School Communications

January 12, 2015
  PPE, personal protective equipment, Liberia, Ebola, UMMS Ebola Relierf Effort, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, #tackleebola
  The protective gear needed to safeguard health care workers from exposure to the Ebola virus was purchased by an academic consortium led by UMMS, thanks to a $7.5 million grant from Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

A critically needed shipment of $1.7 million in personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers was flown to Monrovia, Liberia, yesterday, fulfilling a key component of UMass Medical School’s Ebola relief effort in Liberia.

The protective gear needed to safeguard health care workers from exposure to the Ebola virus was purchased by an academic consortium led by the UMass Medical School, thanks to a $7.5 million grant from Paul G. Allen’s #TackleEbola initiative.

UMass Medical School’s work in Liberia centers on three goals:

  • Recruiting health care workers from academic medical centers in the United States to work in Ebola treatment units (ETUs);
  • Reopening 25 of Liberia’s district hospitals to restore basic health care services; and
  • Providing laboratory and transfusion support in Liberia.

“The PPE is critical because, despite the fact that the Ebola epidemic has been going on for several months, many rural hospitals still do not have it,” said Patricia McQuilkin, MD, clinical associate professor of pediatrics at UMMS and a project leader on the Ebola relief grant. “Also, it is critical that when the training teams are deployed to the hospitals that they have PPE to train with, to teach staff to ‘don and doff.’”

UMMS and the team of academic partners on the grant are working to reopen 25 hospitals by hiring teams of Liberian health care workers, training them to become experts in safely handling Ebola cases and then dispatching them to train colleagues. Starting this month, the teams of master trainers—to include a Liberian doctor, nurse, midwife, psychologist and sanitation expert—will be dispatched to spend one week at each hospital to train staff on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards for Ebola safety, triage, patient care, sanitation and donning and doffing PPE. Everyone in the hospital will be trained, including janitors and cafeteria staff. One employee will be trained extensively on infection control and will monitor compliance closely.

Simultaneously, hospitals will be fully stocked with all necessary safety supplies, including the most recent shipment of PPE, with the support of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Transportation and Logistics. The training and medical supplies will allow the hospitals to reopen.

Building on a years-long relationship between UMMS and Liberia, the UMass Medical School Ebola Relief efforts funded by the grant are a component of philanthropist Paul G. Allen’s increased commitment of at least $100 million to the Tackle Ebola campaign he has launched. The UMMS Ebola Relief Initiative, announced in October, will also deploy emergency medicine, infectious disease and disaster management physicians; nurse practitioners; nurses; and other health care workers to provide direct medical care to Ebola treatment units. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is the largest in history, with nearly 17,600 suspected cases reported and 6,500 deaths since December 2013.

Earlier efforts by UMMS to help rebuild health care in Liberia include nurse and physician education and training in collaboration with the HEARTT (Health Education and Research through Training) Foundation; developing a pediatrics curriculum for a country with only two native-born pediatricians; and working with the Liberian Post-Graduate Council to develop a post-graduate training program.

UMMS has also worked with the University of Liberia and Indiana University to create the UL Center for Excellence in Health and Life Sciences, which, with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funding, has developed health science and public health academic programs; trained doctors, nurses and public health workers; installed a computer lab at Liberia’s medical school; and increased access to print and digital medical libraries.

Established in 2006, the collaborative comprises UMass Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital, Mt. Sinai Medical School, the University of Florida Medical School, the University of Maryland Medical School and Vanderbilt University, and its newest member, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Transportation and Logistics.

Visit www.umassmed.edu/ebola/ to learn how to contribute to the UMass Medical School Ebola Relief effort.

Related links on UMassMedNow:
UMMS Ebola Relief effort launched with $7.5M Paul G. Allen Family Foundation grant
Ebola free, Rick Sacra continues call for prayers, support for his ‘adopted country’UMass Medical School partners to send Ebola relief to Liberia
UMMS installing modern technology at Liberia’s only med school
Gilroy teaches anatomy in Liberia: Working in brand new lab at the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine
UMMS faculty form strong bonds with Liberia
Library projects lending order to chaos in Liberia
Medical School team rebuilding health care in Liberia