Liberia: Ebola clinic fills up within hours of opening

September 2014

Last week saw a welcome boost to numbers of treatment places available to people with Ebola in Monrovia, Liberia. The Island Clinic, a private clinic refurbished as an Ebola Treatment Unit by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare with support from WHO and other partners, opened its doors on Sunday 21 September, adding another desperately needed 120 Ebola treatment beds to the 240 available in Monrovia.

At the new Ebola Treatment Unit, the Island Clinic, Liberia, 2014
WHO/R. Sorensen

Some waited patiently outside the door. Others, too weak to walk, arrived by ambulance. But many showed a sense of relief, as the Island Clinic, Liberia’s newest Ebola Treatment Unit, opened to receive its first patients on 21 September.

“I’m very happy to have the chance to give something back to my people.”

Hawa Quaye, Liberian nurse working in the new Ebola Treatment Unit at the Island Clinic

The capital has a desperate shortage of available beds for those struck by the vicious Ebola virus. In previous weeks, sick and dying people have been sent to the Redemption holding centre, where there was little or nothing to offer them other than the knowledge that they were protecting their loved ones from infection by leaving their homes. All the other Ebola Treatment Unit beds in the city are full. And the numbers keep rising.

Opening of the Island Clinic, a private clinic refurbished as a state-of-the-art Ebola Treatment Unit by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare with support from WHO and other partners, adds another 120 desperately needed Ebola treatment beds to the 240 beds available in Monrovia.

More than 100 construction workers have been working 3 shifts, every day in the past 3 weeks to get the Island Clinic ready, says WHO Representative in Liberia, Peter Graaff.

At the new Ebola Treatment Unit, the Island Clinic, Liberia, 2014
WHO/R. Sorensen

Island Clinic adds much needed beds

Within 24 hours of opening, the clinic was filled beyond capacity. Ugandan doctors and nurses deployed by WHO are working around the clock, together with Liberians who have been specially trained in infection control and clinical care of Ebola patients.

Trained Liberian nurse, Hawa Quaye says she looks forward to working in the new Ebola Treatment Unit at the Island Clinic. "I was a refugee once and I nearly died back then during the time of conflict. Now I’m very happy to have the chance to give something back to my people, and to help those in need."

While the Island Clinic does not come close to caring for all the Ebola patients who need health care in Monrovia at the moment, there is hope on the horizon with several more treatment centres set to open in the coming weeks, in addition to plans announced by the United States Government to build 17 new treatment facilities, each of around 100 beds.