Another painful loss to Sierra Leone has occurred. It has left tears and wailing in Sierra Leone and abroad. Dr. Olivette Buck who tested positive for Ebola on Tuesday 9th September 2014 has in early morning hours of Sunday 14th September 2014 met her demise as our nation continues to suffer in the cruel hands of the Ebola virus disease. As a medical superintendent attached to Lumley Hospital in Sierra Leone’s capital city, she was very well liked and popular. Prior to becoming a doctor, she was a schoolteacher at Annie Walsh Memorial School and many prominent Sierra Leonean women in the society today had all passed through her hands at that school. Her death therefore prompted a huge backlash of fury that her life could not be saved when she fell ill with the virus.
However, in-depth investigations by this newspaper over the past few days, have uncovered some startling facts which will shed better light on the demise of this well-respected and highly adored late medical doctor.
As the Lumley Hospital premises were being fumigated on Thursday 11th September 2014, this newspaper’s team went on the ground and carried out interviews with nurses, staff and even some of the admitted patients who had earlier fled the hospital and gone to their various homes.
Our extensive, thorough fact-finding has uncovered the disappointing fact that Dr. Olivette Buck had fallen ill with clear cut signs of Ebola for over one week in form of fever and headache for which, she did not seek to get tested for Ebola but was self-treating herself.
According to two of her nursing staff who asked not to be named, it all started sometime just after mid-August when due to lack of protective clothing, they got exposed to at least one Ebola patient at the hospital.
One nurse explained that they, junior staff, staged a sit-down strike to call attention to their plight. She lamented that within the given 2 to 21 days incubation period from that August exposure to the Ebola virus, Dr. Buck on Monday 1st September 2014 turned up at the Lumley hospital with a high fever and asked the laboratory for a Malaria blood test to be done on her. Our source said subsquent to this, she progressively became even sicker to the extent that on one day that week, “for the very first time since she started work at Lumley”, it was her husband, Reverend Jenner Buck who drove her to work as she was too ill herself. On Friday 5th September, she appeared for work and was so ill that she asked for an intravenous drip to be administered on her. This was willingly done by four (4) of her nurses (names with-held). Some nurses also went to her residence where they helped to take care of her at home that weekend.
The following Monday 8th September, the concerned staff went on, Dr. Buck indeed came to work but was still not better; at which point, it was reminded of the incident back in August of thedead Ebola patient. It was advised to be considered that it might not be Malaria but it was Ebola. At this time, she had already been very sick since at least the Monday before (1st September 2014) but had been treating herself.
The next day Tuesday 9th September, her blood was drawn only for the results to come in on Wednesday as positive for Ebola. At this point, she had been sick with Ebola now for at least ten days and the virus had ravaged her immune system taking her health downhill.
She was admitted into the Isolation Unit at Connaught Hospital where she was given palliative care until she passed away on Sunday 14th September.
Two of Lumley Laboratory Technicians Mr. Paul and Mr. Amara spoke to this newspaper and confirmed the report that they did the Malaria and other tests on her but the results showed no sugar neither malaria in her blood sample.
The hospital has meanwhile been totally disinfected and work should resume on Monday 15th September. However, affected staff, especially the four nurses, who were in contact with the late doctor, are to be quarantined.
Meanwhile, staff of the hospital are bitterly complaining of stigmatisation in the community where they are treated as Ebola suspects.
“Communities, neighbors and even family members now discriminate and marginalize us,” a nurse wept.
In that light, Honorable Member of Parliament representing that area’s Constituency 112, Hon. Sheku Amani Sannoh has called a meeting and urged for an end to such awful stigmatisation.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.