International Christian mission agency SIM reported today that the person Mecklenburg County Health Department reported Saturday evening as returning from West Africa to the Charlotte area and classified as “some risk” for Ebola infection is SIM missionary Dr. John Fankhauser.
According to Mecklenburg County Health Department officials, Fankhauser is healthy and shows no signs of Ebola. Following established guidelines, the health department issued a quarantine order for Fankhauser to follow. SIM is fully cooperating.
Fankhauser was not treating Ebola patients at one of the separate Ebola treatment centers located on the campus of SIM’s ELWA hospital outside of Monrovia. However, he did treat a patient in the hospital who later was diagnosed with the disease. Fankhauser was wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) at the time, so he had no direct skin contact with the patient.
A family physician from Ventura, Calif, Fankhauser returned to Liberia after Labor Day to care for SIM missionary Dr. Rick Sacra, who was diagnosed with Ebola, and to assume Sacra’s duties as hospital administrator and much-needed physician at the ELWA hospital. Sacra was evacuated, treated in Omaha, Neb., and recovered from the disease.
Fankhauser had returned to the U.S. from Liberia in mid-August for a much needed break from treating Ebola patients, including SIM missionary Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly of Samaritan’s Purse. The two were evacuated to EmoryUniversityHospital in Atlanta and recovered. Fankhauser completed his quarantine period on SIM’s 90-acre campus in Charlotte, N.C., upon his return. He had been on the front lines of Ebola care since early in the outbreak of the epidemic in Liberia.
Fankhauser is completing his current quarantine period on the SIM campus at the mission’s secluded RV park, which provides him and his family privacy.
“John’s commitment to helping the people of Liberia is inspiring,” said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA. “When his SIM colleague Rick Sacra became ill with Ebola, John said, ‘send me back in.’ He has worked tirelessly over the past two months providing essential medical and administrative services at our ELWA Hospital, including treatment of malaria patients and delivering babies – services which are scarcely available. Last week he reported that our hospital was one of the only hospitals open in the capital of 1.5 million people.”
Johnson reiterated that Fankhauser is healthy, showing no signs of Ebola and is quarantined as a precaution. He said SIM’s policy is to follow CDC guidelines and adhere to the directives of all public health agencies.
Fankhauser is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Medicine. Before joining SIM, he was the medical director at Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura, Calif. He also served as full-time teaching faculty in the Ventura Family Medicine Residency program and is an assistant clinical professor at UCLA School of Medicine.