Press Conference: September 3, 2014

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Bruce Johnson made the following statements at a press conference on September 3, 2014:

The Writebols

Nearly two months ago our worlds were turned upside down. The world of David and Nancy Writebol and their family. The world of SIM. And dare I say the world suffering from Ebola and the world that didn’t know anything about Ebola.

We are all doing so much better, except the world suffering from Ebola. It has gotten worse…much worse.

Our overwhelming joy of seeing Nancy come through Ebola and now to see her energy level and her great smile returning, is only moderated by our love and compassion for the people of Liberia.

On Monday 12 people walked out of our 50 bed Ebola Care Unit in Monrovia, Liberia, having also survived Ebola. May that happen day after day after day, until Ebola is halted in Liberia.

Nancy and David, thank you for taking this time out of your private time of recovering your energy and just spending time together after having gone through separation from each other while Nancy fought for her life and recovered from the Ebola virus.

Your courage, faith in God, realism of facing this deadly disease has been a testament to who you are.

Thank you.

Statement about Rick Sacra

Joining me now is Mr. Will Elphick, the SIM Liberia country director. Will has first-hand knowledge of our work in Liberia. Will is British. The U.S. and Britain are just two of the 50 plus countries where SIM workers are from, who are serving around the world.

As you learned yesterday, one of our American SIM missionary doctors in Liberia tested positive for Ebola.

That doctor is Dr. Rick Sacra. Dr. Sacra is 51 years old.

Rick is a veteran doctor with SIM. He and his wife, Debbie, joined SIM in the late 80’s. They have served in Liberia. Rick has been our Liberia country director, medical director of our SIM/ELWA Hospital and most recently is establishing a residency program for family medicine for Liberia at our SIM/ELWA Hospital.

This is one part of our effort to help rebuild the medical infrastructure of Liberia – to train Liberian medical professionals.

Rick and his family are currently living in the Boston area of the U.S., with Rick traveling back and forth into Liberia. He just had volunteered to return to Liberia a month ago, shortly after Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol became infected with Ebola.

He approached us after hearing of Dr. Brantly being unable to carry on his medical duties. Plus our other two doctors had been pulling very long hours, under extremely fatiguing conditions, and they needed a break.

Rick was not caring for patients in our ELWA 2 Ebola Care Center. He was serving patients in our Obstetrics Ward at our ELWA General Hospital. Rick was caring for pregnant women. Delivering babies by C-section and natural births.

Let me just say that in the midst of learning of this disheartening news about Dr. Sacra, I also learned some heartening news that on that same day, Monday, 12 Ebola patients walked out of our Ebola Care Center, having survived Ebola.

The Ebola Care Centers on our 136 acre SIM campus are the largest Ebola Care Centers in Liberia. A 50 bed unit is being run by our Liberian medical professionals and staff. A 200 bed unit is being run by MSF or better known in this country as Doctors Without Borders.

We have no confirmation at this time about the exact contact point that Dr. Sacra had with Ebola and contracted it. They check patients in pre-admittance for Ebola symptoms. A strong possibility is that the Ebola symptoms were masked and not presenting themselves with a patient who was admitted and cared for. We are fully cooperating with the CDC who has people on the ground in Liberia.

We would like confirmation of the contact point, which will help us prevent this and any other medical workers from hopefully having this happen in the future. Rick told me in an email that he was following all protocols and precautions.

While this news was disheartening for the sake of Rick, his wife and family, it does not dampen our resolve and commitment in SIM to serve the people of Liberia and attack this Ebola epidemic.

Our faith compels us. Our trust in God is not blind to the hardships which we may face. We are learning in a deep way that our faith in our God gets us through these difficult times.

Right now one of our other SIM doctors is on his way to Liberia to come along side our Liberian doctors and staff in the care of Rick and the continued running of our ELWA Hospital.

Rick is being cared for in our ELWA 2 Ebola Care Center. Many of those who are caring for Rick are those he has taught and mentored. They love and admire Dr. Sacra, so he is receiving their utmost attention and care.

Photo by: Bethany Fankhauser

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