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New ETU Opens in River Gee

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The American Refugee Committee or ARC, last weekend, February Maech,2, 2015, opened a new Ebola Treatment Unit or ETU in Fish Town, River Gee County- 230 miles southeast of Monrovia.

At the opening ceremony, Dr. Alfred Chessor-Samukai, ETU Medical Director, said the ETU will likely be repurposed into a regional ETU for all counties in southeastern Liberia.

She lauded the ARC for the facility designed as a semi-permanent structure.  Dr. Chessor-Samukai also thanked the people of River Gee for welcoming her team to the county, as well as giving them a space to build the ETU.

Even though the number of Ebola cases in the country has significantly reduced, “Liberia still has a lot of work to do to curb the disease completely, as long as there are still cases in neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea,” she said.

According to her, as a result of the low case count in the country, the Liberian Government is proposing to decommission some ETUs, but cannot declare Liberia Ebola-free until the entire sub-region was free of the disease.

She expressed the hope that the center will not be used for the purpose it was intended, knowing how ravaging Ebola can be when it breaks out.

The ARC medical team, made up of doctors, physician assistants, nurses, a laboratory technician and pharmacy assistant, will staff the newly opened ETU.

The acting County Superintendent, Mr. Keh Quenneh, thanked the American Government for its continuous support to the people River Gee County, also commending the ARC for the project.

He also hoped that the facility will never be used for its intended reason.

Quenneh said the county would like to see the ARC programs implemented throughout the county, but added that the county would like for its citizens to be engaged with all decisions that are ultimately made.

The ARC Ebola Response Manager, Winfred Russell, expressed ARC’s gratitude to the people of the county for their level of support to the ETU project.

“We have been lucky that it has been more than 145 days since a confirmed case of Ebola was seen, but we still need to take care of ourselves and follow all the necessary measures to keep the disease from returning to River Gee in particular and Liberia as a whole,” Russell said, cautioning that if Liberians fail to follow specific infection control protocols to keep Ebola out of the country, they would erase all the gains made against the deadly disease.

Also speaker at the ceremony, Dr. Joseph Sieka- River Gee’s County Health Officer, praised ARC, UNMIL, USAID, and other NGOs for their partnership and support to the people of River Gee.

He wished that that the facility would be used for a different reason as well. At the end of the in-door program, attendees were taken on a guarded tour of the ETU by the medical team.

The facility comprises several segments that include the psychosocial office, pharmacy, mortuary, warehouse, as well as a laundry room, among others.  The project was constructed by Welthungerhilfe, formerly German Agro Action and turned over to ARC.

By Lewis S. Teh

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