Dr. Joshua Mugele showed up for work as usual at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital. He sauntered past a screaming lady in pain, a long queue of disgruntled patients waiting for their turn, and nurses and other doctors on duty with tired faces and urgency in their every movement.
Dr. Joshua sighed as he waited for the lift with his cup of coffee in his hand and his briefcase in the other. He had hoped to get a quiet moment to himself in his room before his shift started in half an hour’s time. He had worked overtime the night before and he had only managed to catch a two-hour nap at home before his alarm reminded him of his next ten-hour long shift again.
When the lift door opened at the level his office was at, Dr. Hogan greeted him with a frown. He was unlike his usual cheerful self.
“A patient with Ebola has been admitted,” Dr. Hogan announced with an unmistakable tremor in his voice. Dr. Joshua immediately asked whether the patient was in isolation. He was told the Ebola victim was in the same crowded emergency department where he had just come up from.
Both men raced down the stairs to the emergency department and paused at the door. Small and crowded with no ventilation or air conditioning, the room always had a horrible stench. As he stood there, a colleague pointed to the back of the room. There he was – you could not miss him. He was lying on a makeshift bed at the far end of the emergency department. He was obviously sick, with sweat drenching his shirt and his moaning could be heard from where they were standing.
Dr. Joshua braced himself as he made his way towards the patient together with Dr. Hogan. For weeks, news of the spread of Ebola had been the talk of the town. The hospital had been ready with preventive measures should a patient with Ebola visit the hospital. All staff had undergone emergency training, just in case. However, after many uneventful weeks, they had started to let their guard down. They were thinking that this would never happen to them.
The danger of the Ebola virus spreading in such a crowded room was high. They had to get him into an isolation room. He was highly contagious if others came into contact with his bodily fluids. They began getting ready. Dr. Joshua was confident. He was sure that they could contain the spread of the disease if they worked fast under his leadership. Two nurses wheeled in an iron bed. Dr. Hogan and Dr. Joshua each grabbed hold of one side of the stretcher the man was on. They were ready to transfer him onto the iron bed and move him to the isolation room as quickly as possible.
Then, the unthinkable happened. The patient started choking and, in his struggles, he ripped the face mask off Dr. Joshua’s face. Dr. Joshua could feel the man’s sweat on his face. He instantly felt a chill run down his spine, no longer sure if he could lead his staff in stopping the spread of Ebola.