Bulldozers cleared the remains of a once busy Ebola treatment unit in Liberia on Wednesday, as health care workers, officials and some who were treated there gathered to mark the center’s last day and official decommissioning.
Music echoed near the gathering at the former ELWA Treatment Center in Paynesville, Liberia, the largest center in the country during the 2014-2015 outbreak of the virus that killed more than 4,800 people in this West African country.
The virus’ surge in West Africa two years ago was Ebola’s deadliest ever. About 11,300 people died starting in December 2013, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The World Health Organization declared an end to the outbreak in June 2016.
Physician’s assistant Jianjay Moore-Potter, 40, was among the health care workers who gathered to pay tribute to their time at the center.
“From the beginning, it was very hard because we never knew anything about Ebola,” Moore-Potter said.
People working at the treatment unit overcame great challenges while taking terrible risks, she said.
“We got courage from our manager, who told us as Liberians we should not abandon our own people,” she said. “I saw tears in his eyes, and on that day we all wept and said we should take the risk to be here.”
When survivors started leaving the unit, Moore-Potter said they knew a day without Ebola would come.
Shopkeeper Moses Akoi, 42, thanked the health care workers who saved his life.
“I thought there was no hope for me,” Akoi said. “I appreciate God that I am a survivor today.”
Health Ministry officials said an infectious disease treatment center at Redemption Hospital in western Monrovia will care for future Ebola patients, if the virus recurs.