Former Oamaru nurse completes Ebola mission

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A former Oamaru nurse, who has been in Sierra Leone for four weeks responding to the Ebola crisis, says the situation is serious and more help is needed to control it.

Registered nurse Rolands Selis departed New Zealand on August 24 to work in Kenema, one of the worst hit areas of Sierra Leone, for the New Zealand Red Cross as part of their aid mission.

Mr Selis said he had been working as a health delegate at a purpose-built tent hospital set up by the Red Cross about 18km from the city of Kenema.

The international team he was working with included members from New Zealand, Spain, Norway, Finland, Australia and Denmark.

Mr Selis was trained by the Red Cross to be in their pool of health delegates ready to be deployed in emergency situations and was offered the position in Sierra Leone, following two other New Zealand nurses who were already in Sierra Leone and helping to set up the hospital.

“I had been following the Ebola crisis on the news, seeing the impact of Ebola on the national nurses and doctors, I knew I could help fill their boots if only for a relatively short period. “

The situation is serious and while it has been good to see more international medical staff coming to Sierra Leone, help is needed on the ground to get the situation under control, he said.

Mr Selis worked as a registered nurse at the Oamaru Hospital from 2005 to 2010.

The Ministry of Health states that the ongoing outbreak is currently affecting Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone with a number of cases reported in Nigeria, three in the US and a single case in both Senegal and Spain.

While the outbreak is the largest ever reported the risk to New Zealand from Ebola remains extremely low.

Oamaru Hospital chief executive Robert Gonzales said a pandemic plan for Ebola is in place and the hospital is following guidelines set by the Ministry of Health and the Southern District Health Board.

The Ministry of Health advises travellers to reconsider their need to travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Border screening is already in place for individuals arriving from West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.

This additional screening was introduced in early August and as of October 15, 64 people have been through this screening process with none having caused concern.

An expert advisory group has been established so the Ministry of Health can continue to check its precautions are appropriate.

The Ministry of Health is closely monitoring the situation in the United States, and will continue to monitor the advice from the World Health Organisation and other countries in relation to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

By RUBY HARFIELD

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

SERIOUS SITUATION: Former Oamaru nurse Rolands Selis (facing front arms folded) with New Zealand Red Cross nurse Donna Collins (pictured with microphone) leading the orientation of the national staff for the first orientation day of the Red Cross Ebola treatment centre.