The first American Ebola patient to be treated at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha will be returning to Liberia next month, the same place he contracted the dangerous virus.
Beginning Jan. 15, the 52-year-old family physician from Holden, Mass and SIM USA physician, Dr. Rick Sacra will treat patients at SIM’s ELWA Hospital is Monrovia. He will not be working at the Ebola treatment units on the ELWA campus, but will treat patients with malaria and chronic health issues, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as provide maternity and pediatrics care – much-needed services with so few hospitals available. He is expected to remain in Liberia for about a month.
SIM’s ELWA Hospital became a model for other hospitals in West Africa during the Ebola crisis, developing treatment facilities, screening processes and offering other critical care medical services when other facilities were shutting down.
“I am feeling well physically, and it seems the Lord is opening the door for me to return to regular ministry trips to Liberia,” said Sacra. “My physician colleagues are working very hard, keeping ELWA Hospital open for a wide range of patients, as well as managing Ebola patients at the ELWA 2 unit. I hope to be able to lighten their load, providing both compassionate care to our patients, as well as contributing in some small way to rebuilding and refreshing the staff, which has been through so much in the past six months.”
“This demonstrates how Rick has such a heart for serving others and using his skills to treat those suffering from various conditions,” said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA. “We’re so thankful for his successful treatment and recovery from Ebola. He has spent nearly 20 years serving patients in Liberia, and now he’s ready to get back to work doing the things he’s trained and gifted to perform.”
In early August, as the Ebola outbreak was spreading, Sacra volunteered to return to Liberia. In six days he worked with SIM Liberian staff to reopen ELWA Hospital, when other hospitals were closed or closing. After contracting Ebola, he was transported to The University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where he successfully underwent treatment.
Sacra serves on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Family Practice Residency program and as a medical missionary with SIM.