A Case Of Mistaken Identity Sends Healthy Boy To An Ebola Ward
As part of Sierra Leone’s broader effort to contain the deadly Ebola virus, the country opened a new ambulance dispatch center in September in the capital, Freetown. Along with a new Ebola hotline, the center is considered an important step forward in the war on Ebola.
But on the center’s second day of operation, a series of errors put the life of an apparently healthy 14-year-old boy at risk.
The dispatch center is situated in a meeting room at the Cline Town hospital just north of downtown Freetown. Inside the room, a group of men and women are huddled around a table full of laptops. Safa Koruma, a technician, points at a message on a screen. It describes a possible Ebola patient, reported through the hotline, with the words “vomiting and very pale.”
Koruma forwards this message — along with hundreds of others — to the nearest health official. A community health worker is then supposed to evaluate the patient and assess the likelihood of Ebola.
“Probable” Ebola cases end up on a large whiteboard on the other side of the meeting room. It’s the master list for ambulance pickups.
Victoria Parkinson, of the Tony Blair African Governance Initiative, is one of the directors of the center. She points at a name on the board with the number five written next to it, indicating the number of cohabiting family members. (read more)…