Morristown doctor returns from African mission treating victims of deadly virus
Doctors in Liberia working at the Medical Teams International Ebola clinic wear personal protective equipment to guard themselves from the virus. Dr. Alan Jamison recently returned from the clinic.
As a precautionary measure, a Morristown doctor has quarantined himself after returning from a missionary trip to Liberia to work with Ebola patients and set up training programs to spread knowledge about the virus to the public.
Dr. Alan Jamison said his self-imposed quarantine will end next Saturday, which will be 21 days since he was last in contact in a patient diagnosed with Ebola.
Jamison, who has spent years volunteering across the world, was there as a volunteer working for Medical Teams International (MTI).
He said the reason he decided to quarantine himself was not because he has exhibited any symptoms, but because part of his purpose for being in Liberia was to work directly with patients who were infected with the Ebola virus.
“I was providing direct patient care with patients in the Ebola isolation unit and working with the doctors who were sent to Emory University,” Jamison said. “MTI has an office there and they’ve had on-going programs since 2004.”
Jamison said he was also working on a program in the Grand Cape Mount County in Liberia to get a system in place to get information about Ebola to the public.
“The program started in March when the Ebola outbreak began,” he said. “MTI was assigned to Grand Mouth Cape and I was to be a part of that training also. In addition to that they requested medical personnel because of the need for doctors.”
Jamison arrived in Liberia on July 7, and was supposed to stay until Aug. 10, however, he said MTI decided to send him back to the states early because of the overall situation and security.
He said he was providing care with the Ebola unit, the pediatric patients and at times would alternate training sessions for the community health workers setting up the program under the administration of health.
“The volunteers that are working with organizations, if there becomes a risk situation volunteers are removed,” he explained. “I quarantined myself. I have not been ill or symptomatic. If you’re infected there is an incubation period of two to 21 days.”
Jamison’s 21 days will end next Saturday and he said he is looking forward to seeing his wife and family.
“I’m separated from my family. You are not contagious until you start to have symptoms and I have not showed any signs of infection,” he said. “The concern is that I was providing direct patient care in a high risk unit with patients who had confirmed Ebola disease.”
Jamison said that when people are infected symptoms usually begin to show between day 4 and 10.
Jamison said workers wear PPE (personal protective equipment) before they enter a unit to work with patients and must be decontaminated when they exit the unit.
He said there is a very strict procedure for how to remove the PPE so as not to come in contact with the virus and the suits are washed in a chlorine solution during each stage of decontamination. If there is no breach in procedure, the doctors and nurses should be safe.
“Because the physician became ill in another mission that was working there. That was a concern and more security situations with closing the borders and the population,” he said.
-By Aletheia Davidson, Tribune Staff Writer