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The psychology of health workers on the front line of the Ebola outbreak




A nurse leaves an isolation room after checking a man on August 14, 2014 at the district hospital of Biankouma, during a simulation operation organized by the Ivory Coast Health Ministry to train medical staff to treat potential patients with Ebola.
A nurse leaves an isolation room after checking a man on August 14, 2014 at the district hospital of Biankouma, during a simulation operation organized by the Ivory Coast Health Ministry to train medical staff to treat potential patients with Ebola.
ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images

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A second nurse who treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to die from the disease on US soil, has been confirmed to have contracted the virus. Nina Pham, the first Dallas nurse who was diagnosed, has been in treatment and is in “clinically stable” condition. Their plight highlights the risk health and aid workers face and the sacrifices they make to save lives. An American doctor and a North Carolina missionary working in Liberia with Ebola victims were the first people to be treated for the virus in the US. Both survived the disease.

According to the World Health Organization, over 380 healthcare workers have contracted the virus since the beginning of October, and over 100 have died fighting the disease. The number will certainly climb. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that Liberia alone needs some 10,000 health care workers, including doctors and nurses, to run its isolation units. And news of infection has discouraged some volunteers from going abroad to help. Still, many are persisting, despite the tremendous danger it entails.

How does an aid worker or a healthcare volunteer weigh their personal safety against doing a greater good? Have you ever been in that situation before? What’s the psychological profile of someone willing to risk their lives to help others?

Guests:

Margaret Aguirre, head of Global Initiatives, International Medical Corps. IMC is one of a few aid organizations with Ebola treatment units in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Rich Moseanko, senior relief officer currently serving in Iraq for World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide. He specializes in setting up emergency relief field operations