Skip to content
left end
left end
right end

30 April 2015

Bristol nurse: it was a privilege to go to Africa on Ebola-fighting trip

Katy Pitt, senior staff nurse at St Michael's Hospital, has praised inspirational efforts to combat Ebola after five weeks' work in Sierra Leone.  

Having made the decision to offer her services as a nurse out in Africa, Katy approached the charity Save the Children to arrange her deployment to Sierra Leone in early February.

Struck by the beautiful scenery, it wasn't long before the devastating effects of the Ebola virus were clear.

As part of a team coordinated by Save the Children, Katy worked with medics from across the globe in a treatment centre, which has now closed due to cases declining and services moving to fewer centres. of the Ebola crisis. Instead of greeting with a hand shake, hug or kiss, we would touch elbow to elbow as a means of hello and goodbye."Katy said: "The people were just wonderful. For a country which is so tactile, it was evident their culture had temporarily evolved as a result

Katy said: "I worked with national and international medics without whom I couldn't have done what I did. They work incredibly hard and are dedicated to their work. Some nationals have been there from the start of the Ebola outbreak, educating the community who were reluctant to listen at first."

Since returning to her role as a senior staff nurse on the gynae oncology ward at St Michael's Hospital, Katy has noticed a big difference.

katy Pitt

Katy said: "We worked short shifts to preserve energy during the extreme heat. In the red zone, where all suspect and contaminated patients were kept, we would wear our personal protective equipment which was sweltering.

"At first we could stay in the red zone for up to an hour and half but as the weather got warmer, near the end, we were only managing 45 minutes. I have been used to a routine where I would work long shifts and always put my patients first but this was not the case. As much as I wanted to prioritise my patients, it was essential I put my welfare first to ensure I could carry on in the job and prevent myself being a risk to others.

"Since returning to my team on Ward 78 I am glad I can give my time to my patients again without having to worry about being dehydrated or over heated. Despite being cold all the time, the environment here is much easier to work in."

Jennifer Anstey, cardiology matron, said: "Katy received full managerial support from the Women's Division here at St Michaels Hospital. We value Katy extremely highly as a dedicated, hardworking professional and wanted to allow her the time to fulfil her own ambition, knowing that the experience would benefit the gynaecology department in the long run. The managerial experience she has gained from working in a situation with limited resources and the essential application of protective infection control equipment will bring huge benefits through sharing her experience with the registered and unregistered nurses we have working at the Trust. It was tough for Katy but I know they would have felt the value of her compassionate, caring and friendly nature."

On return to the UK, Katy was immediately assessed by Public Health England and monitored for three weeks after her trip. Despite being in quarantine at home, she was glad to be back with her fiancé Kieron, family and friends.

On reflection Katy said: "I would do it all over again! Anyone wanting to do something similar should go and do it. The organisations and people involved have been remarkable, keeping a close eye on us throughout the process.

"I have always been incredibly passionate about the NHS but we honestly don't realise how fortunate we are. It has been a privilege to go to Sierra Leone and work with such inspirational people.

"Although I am grateful for the high praise, the people who deserve it most are the national and international staff who have worked tirelessly from day one."