About 10 days ago, Amie*, a lady in her 30’s came to our Centre from Tonkolili (a few hundred miles west of here). She was in a bad way on arrival and we couldn’t get too much history from her regarding contacts either in the sense of contact with people positive for Ebola or her personal contacts e.g. next of kin.
After admission, she had tested positive for Ebola. Over the last 3-4 days she had physically improved significantly but we were worried as she seemed very down and was not eating and taking only minimal fluids even though she seemed able. We referred her to the mental health team for support with amazing results.
The mental health team like to see people face to face rather than inside the high risk area where they have to work through the barrier of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). With one of our National Staff I walked her slowly from the tent (she hasn’t walked in a over a week) to a pre set chair near the fence at the edge of the confirmed case area. The mental health specialist then took over and I left them in private.
They chatted to her and found out that she didn’t really know where she was, she thought her family had abandoned her and she would not see them including her 4 children again. Understandable therefore that she was feeling very low. Thankfully she was able to remember her fathers phone number and we called it. When her father heard her voice over the speaker he started to cry , he thought she had died at a holding centre. She was so happy, she was clapping her hands and for the first time smiling.
I have a feeling that this was exactly what Amie needed to turn that final corner and head to convalescence. We will continue to support her for the remainder of her journey.
* Name changed for privacy reasons