Two more Kiwi nurses helping Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone

24 October 2014

Two Red Cross nurses – one a veteran and the other on her first mission – are the second Kiwi contingent to head to Sierra Leone to help try and stem the Ebola outbreak.

Andrew Cameron, an Australian-based nurse and Red Cross nursing veteran, and Liz McDonald, a Wellington Hospital emergency department nurse on her first mission, were enroute this week to Sierra Leone.

The pair were to work in emergency health roles at the Kenema Red Cross Ebola Treatment Centre that their Kiwi predecessors Donna Collins (see other articles) and Sharon Mackie helped set up during their mission in August-September.  Collins and Mackie returned safely to New Zealand earlier this month after sitting out three weeks in quarantine in Morocco.

New Zealand Red Cross said MacDonald and Cameron were due to be in Sierra Leone until December.  Cameron was awarded in 2011 the Red Cross's highest nursing honour – the Florence Nightingale medal – for his nursing work in some of the world's hotspots including Afghanistan and South Sudan.

The Kenema Centre was built from scratch on a site cleared from virgin jungle on the outskirts of Kenema, the third biggest city in Sierra Leone with an estimated population of around 190,000.

An article on the UN humanitarian affairs website IRIN  (www.irinnews.org) in mid-October described a day in the life of the centre which had at that stage had been opened a month.

It said there was roughly 80 staff per shift on a 2:1 staff/patient ratio with a mix of local nurses, social workers, water and sanitation workers and burial teams plus international Red Cross nurses and other staff.  In the first month it had admitted 52 patients, discharged 15 and buried 22.  Red Cross were reported to want to increase the number of beds from 30 to 60 in the future but needed more staff.