For Lance Plyler and the other health workers treating Ebola patients at the small missionary hospital in Liberia, exhaustion came in many forms.
The physical demands of working under layer upon layer of protective gear, sweating profusely in the sweltering African heat. The mental challenge of staying alert to the risk of infection while caring for patients suffering bouts of vomiting, diarrhea and fever. The realization that no matter how hard the health workers tried, most patients would die.
“It’s despair on all fronts,” said Plyler, an American doctor who led the Liberian disaster response efforts for the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. “It wears on you after a while. . . . It breaks some people.”
President Obama plans to announce Tuesday that the United States will significantly ramp up its aid to Ebola-ravaged countries in West Africa, from sending supplies and setting up field hospitals to providing health-care personnel and training local medical staff. The commitment comes days after the World Health Organization issued a plea for more volunteers, saying at least 500 doctors and 1,000 more health-care workers are needed.