Barack Obama Meets With Emory Staff

President Barack Obama met with Emory Healthcare staff who worked on the treatment of Ebola patients at Emory University Hospital. Photo Courtesy of Emory University
President Barack Obama met with Emory Healthcare staff who worked on the treatment of Ebola patients at Emory University Hospital. Photo Courtesy of Emory University. 

While visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tuesday, President Barack Obama privately met with the doctors, nurses and staff involved in the Ebola treatment at Emory, according to Emory infectious disease physician Dr. Colleen Kraft.

Kraft and 15 fellow Emory Healthcare staff met with Obama privately for around 15 minutes. During the meeting, Obama thanked the group and asked for their advice about the best way to approach the Ebola crisis, just before he addressed an audience at the CDC where he described the United States’ plan for how to deal with the Ebola outbreaks.

In addition to discussing research that has been completed, Kraft and the rest of the Emory Healthcare team discussed goals and strategies for Obama’s plan to stop the Ebola outbreak.

“I had a chance to thank them for their extraordinary efforts in helping to provide care for the first Americans who recently contracted the disease in Africa,” Obama said in a statement following the conclusion of his visit.

Kraft said that she was “thrilled” about Obama’s visit and that he was very informed and clear about the topic at hand and what needed to be done.

During the visit, Obama announced that the U.S. will send additional health care workers, care kits, materials to build field hospitals and more than 3000 troops to West Africa to help fight the disease, according to CNN.

Emory University Hospital became the first hospital in the U.S. to treat Ebola patients last month with the arrival of Dr. Kent Brantly on Aug. 2 and Nancy Writebol on Aug. 5. The hospital is currently treating a third patient, also under Kraft’s watch.

“Treating the Ebola patients was like any other patient: it’s my job,” Kraft said. The difference, she added, is that these patients came with a lot of scrutiny from all over the world.

Kraft explained that she feels overwhelmed and that her and the other physicians and nurses have been working extremely hard, often 100 hours a week.

According to Kraft, Emory Healthcare now has a much better understanding of the Ebola virus following the outbreak and she believes many of those affected by the virus are dying unnecessarily.

It is important that we let the affected communities know about the effects of the virus, Kraft said, as it is only detectable with lab tests, which are unavailable in many affected communities.

According to Kraft, by taking in the American patients, Emory personalized the issue and has directed global attention to the outbreak in West Africa.

Emory received its first patient four months after the outbreak began.

Without Emory’s efforts to fight Ebola, the world’s efforts to the virus would not be where they are today, Kraft said.

During his address at the conclusion of his visit, Obama stated that there is little chance of contracting Ebola in the U.S.. He also discussed new programs the U.S. has enacted to reduce risk of transmission, including educating flight attendants and pilots, equipping labs across the country with quick tests and making sure that hospitals are trained and prepared to deal with an Ebola case should another arise.

Obama also listed four goals that he and his administration have put in place to fight the Ebola outbreak.

He stated that the first and most direct goal is to control the outbreak. The second is to address the “ripple effects” of economies and communities to prevent further disaster, the third is to “coordinate a broader global response” and the fourth and final goal is to build up a public health system in resource-poor countries to prevent future outbreaks similar to the current Ebola outbreak.

— By Naomi Maisel, Senior Staff Writer