30 April 2015
Bristol nurse: it was a privilege to go to Africa on Ebola-fighting trip
Katy Pitt, senior staff nurse at St Michael's Hospital, has
praised inspirational efforts to combat Ebola after five weeks'
work in Sierra Leone.
Having made the decision to offer her services as a nurse out in
Africa, Katy approached the charity Save the Children to arrange
her deployment to Sierra Leone in early February.
Struck by the beautiful scenery, it wasn't long before the
devastating effects of the Ebola virus were clear.
As part of a team coordinated by Save the Children, Katy worked
with medics from across the globe in a treatment centre, which has
now closed due to cases declining and services moving to fewer
centres. of the Ebola crisis. Instead of greeting with a hand
shake, hug or kiss, we would touch elbow to elbow as a means of
hello and goodbye."Katy said: "The people were just wonderful. For
a country which is so tactile, it was evident their culture had
temporarily evolved as a result
Katy said: "I worked with national and international medics
without whom I couldn't have done what I did. They work incredibly
hard and are dedicated to their work. Some nationals have been
there from the start of the Ebola outbreak, educating the community
who were reluctant to listen at first."
Since returning to her role as a senior staff nurse on the gynae
oncology ward at St Michael's Hospital, Katy has noticed a big
Katy said: "We worked short shifts to preserve energy during the
extreme heat. In the red zone, where all suspect and contaminated
patients were kept, we would wear our personal protective equipment
which was sweltering.
"At first we could stay in the red zone for up to an hour and
half but as the weather got warmer, near the end, we were only
managing 45 minutes. I have been used to a routine where I would
work long shifts and always put my patients first but this was not
the case. As much as I wanted to prioritise my patients, it was
essential I put my welfare first to ensure I could carry on in the
job and prevent myself being a risk to others.
"Since returning to my team on Ward 78 I am glad I can give my
time to my patients again without having to worry about being
dehydrated or over heated. Despite being cold all the time, the
environment here is much easier to work in."
Jennifer Anstey, cardiology matron, said: "Katy received full
managerial support from the Women's Division here at St Michaels
Hospital. We value Katy extremely highly as a dedicated,
hardworking professional and wanted to allow her the time to fulfil
her own ambition, knowing that the experience would benefit the
gynaecology department in the long run. The managerial experience
she has gained from working in a situation with limited resources
and the essential application of protective infection control
equipment will bring huge benefits through sharing her experience
with the registered and unregistered nurses we have working at the
Trust. It was tough for Katy but I know they would have felt the
value of her compassionate, caring and friendly nature."
On return to the UK, Katy was immediately assessed by Public
Health England and monitored for three weeks after her trip.
Despite being in quarantine at home, she was glad to be back with
her fiancé Kieron, family and friends.
On reflection Katy said: "I would do it all over again! Anyone
wanting to do something similar should go and do it. The
organisations and people involved have been remarkable, keeping a
close eye on us throughout the process.
"I have always been incredibly passionate about the NHS but we
honestly don't realise how fortunate we are. It has been a
privilege to go to Sierra Leone and work with such inspirational
"Although I am grateful for the high praise, the people who
deserve it most are the national and international staff who have
worked tirelessly from day one."
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