US military to put up tent at Ebola clinic
MONROVIA (AP): Poor infrastructure, difficulties with equipment, and torrential rains have slowed work for the United States (US) military's initial response to the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa, but it is now ready to start erecting the main tent for a field hospital in Liberia.
Lieutenant Colonel Jason Brown, who was at the site near the airport in the capital Monrovia, said work was supposed to begin yesterday afternoon on the main structure of the 25-bed clinic that will treat health care workers infected with Ebola. It should be ready to accept patients at the end of the month, according to spokesman Chuck Prichard at the US military's Africa Command.
"Every time it rains, it slows things down," said Brown, noting that construction for the field hospital was supposed to begin yesterday. Military teams have also been slowed by equipment that's broken down, including the steering on a road grader, or mix-ups in the delivery of supplies.
On any construction job, there are delays, Brown said, but Liberia presents added challenges.
"Imagine those same frustrations multiplied by a country that has challenges with their infrastructure and challenges with the schedule," he said. But, he said, engineers from the army, navy and marines "have workarounds and solutions for everything.
"The US has also promised to build 17 other Ebola treatment centres, which would have space for 100 patients, each. Work on at least two of the clinics has begun, Prichard said.
While the space is sorely needed, some experts are worried about who will staff them. The three hardest-hit countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone had too few doctors and nurses to begin with, and a tremendous number of infections in health care workers during the outbreak has only further reduced their numbers. With more than 370 health care workers sickened by the disease so far, many other clinicians are afraid to care for Ebola patients.
The White House said President Obama plans to meet with his national security advisers to discuss the Ebola outbreak and the administration's response. The Pentagon's spokesman said on Friday that up to 4,000 US troops could be deployed to West Africa.