Special Report

Ebola outbreak: Liberia's newest, largest treatment clinic already at capacity

CBC News is in Liberia, where the newest and largest Ebola treatment centre is desperately trying to combat the spread of the fatal virus.

CBC News was granted access to the Island Clinic in Monrovia

CBC correspondent Adrienne Arsenault reports from inside an ebola clinic in Liberia 1:31

[The CBC's senior correspondent Adrienne Arsenault, producer Stephanie Jenzer and videographer Jean-François Bisson are in Liberia's capital city of Monrovia reporting on that country's ongoing battle against the deadly Ebola virus.]

Liberia's newest and largest Ebola treatment centre was desperately needed to combat the spread of the fatal virus, yet the facility has barely helped to stop the worst outbreak in recorded history. 

The centre, known as Island Clinic, was exactly seven days old when CBC News toured the “green zone," or safe zone, of the facility on Sunday. It has almost doubled the Ebola treatment capacity in Liberia's capital city of Monrovia, a major urban centre overwhelmed by an exponentially increasing number of cases of the deadly virus. 

When it opened, there were 120 beds available. Within hours, the clinic was already stretched — every space available filled with the city’s most frightened and seriously ill. Somehow, room was made for more patients and currently, by adding beds and sofas where possible, staff estimate the total number is likely closer to 200.

The World Health Organization funded the clinic and handed it over to Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, while UNICEF, the World Food Programme and USAID have joined the WHO donating supplies and support.

'A drop of water in an ocean'

WHO spokesperson Pieter Desloovere said the building can’t handle increasing capacity yet again because of the heavy load on the water supply and electricity, but he acknowledges the need.

“It’s a drop of water in an ocean,” he says. “The demand is so huge.”

Another challenge will be to keep Island Clinic fully staffed, not to mention finding qualified or willing-to-be-trained workers to help run the more than 20 planned facilities in Liberia over the coming months.

There is another problem brewing at the facility, as well: a threat by workers to walk off the job by Tuesday over wages. Many staff receive about $300 per month, but some told CBC News they’ve heard rumours the government is about to reduce that paycheck. 

“We agreed to risk our lives, but we are not satisfied with the pay,"  one health worker told the CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault.

CBC coverage of Liberia's fight against Ebola

Be sure to follow Adrienne Arsenault and Stephanie Jenzer on Twitter at @adriearsenault and @StephJenzer as they provide the most recent news and coverage from Monrovia.

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