A family nurse practitioner is once again leaving her home in the B.C. Interior to volunteer in Africa and help those suffering from the Ebola crisis.
Patrice Gordon, who lives and works in the Chilcotin west of Williams Lake, is going to Nairobi, Kenya where she will be the regional health advisor for Ebola Preparedness and Response for DR Congo (DRC), Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan, Rwanda and the Central African Republic.
Gordon made headlines four years ago when she returned from Sierra Leone after working in an Ebola response clinic and was quarantined to make sure she hadn’t contracted the disease.
This time around she won’t be working directly with patients.
“My role will be to work with WHO, Ministries of Health, Red Cross and other organizations to support the existing Ebola response in DRC and to assist in formulating a consistent, evidence-based preparedness plan for the other countries, which haven’t yet had Ebola cross their borders,” Gordon said in a phone interview from Ottawa Friday.
“The affected areas are transportation hubs, so the risk of spread is high, and with ongoing conflict and unrest in these areas, management is challenging.”
Gordon said while she is “excited” and “intimidated” by the scope of the mission she is also very hopeful knowing she is joining “so many skilled, committed and compassionate people already on the ground.”
It is crucial to ensure that accurate and consistent information is provided to the communities along the border, as well as ensuring as much as possible that they have adequate supplies and human resources to react appropriately and calmly if a case of Ebola is encountered, she added.
“I will hopefully be assisting a talented and effective regional team to provide guidance that will help on a broader level than patient by patient,” she said. “I will for sure miss the direct clinical exposure but am honoured to have been asked to respond in this capacity.”
In 2107 Gordon went to Bangladesh to work with the refugee crisis, in 2015 she went to Nepal after the earthquake.
When she isn’t working across the world with Red Cross she works in the First Nations communities in the Chilcotin.
Gordon said she plans to be gone for a month and will be missing her birthday and Christmas at home in Canada.
“I’m hoping to be home in the New Year,” she said. “Four years ago, I was away the same time, then spent New Year’s Eve 2015 in Kelowna General Hospital waiting for my Ebola test results after getting sick during my three-week monitoring phase. This time I won’t have that requirement as I won’t be having clinical contact.”