Julia with husband Peter Rigg outside Downing Street
On Tuesday 7 July, Julia Hogan attended a reception at 10 Downing Street to honour those who tackled Ebola in West Africa. Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development, presented Julia with a medal which features a portrait of the Queen on one side with the words ‘For Service’ and ‘West Africa Ebola Epidemic’ on the other, alongside a flame on a background showing the virus. Following the presentation Julia got the opportunity to meet Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremey Hunt.
Julia worked as a Nurse in a British funded Ebola Treatment Centre in Makeni, Sierra Leone, caring for patients with suspected or confirmed cases of the disease. In this part of Sierra Leone cases of Ebola are slowly declining however during her time there, Julia witnessed a large spike, with admissions so high that ambulances had to queue outside the medical centre on more than one occasion.
Julia, who works as a Team Leader for the Contraception and Sexual Health (CaSH) team at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said:
‘‘It was a real honour to be presented with the medal and have the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister. I feel extremely privileged to have been given the chance to work with the amazing team over there including the nurses, it was such a challenging and difficult environment, yet they made the circumstances bearable and the support teams always made sure that we were safe’’
‘‘I found I reminded myself more than once that the Ebola Treatment centre was not a hospital, but a centre to contain and prevent the spread of Ebola. Once in our protective suits, our eyes were the only part of our body the patient could see and although in training we practised smiling with your eyes, when that extremely busy time came, the situation was overwhelming the best I could offer was a reassuring tone of voice and a touch of the hand.’’
Dee Roach, Executive Director of Nursing, Quality and Governance at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said:
‘‘We are extremely proud of what Julia accomplished in Sierra Leone, her courage and commitment to compassionate care is inspiring. It was excellent to see one of our nurses with the Trust values at the heart of her work and we are thrilled she has been recognised by the country for this. Lancashire Care is committed to supporting members of staff with their personal and professional development ’’
Since the outbreak of Ebola, there has been over 27,500 reported confirmed, probable, and suspected cases, with this figure still rising each week, resulting in over 11,000 deaths. The UK had led the international response to Ebola in Sierra Leone and has committed £427 million to efforts to defeat the disease. This contribution has included support for more than half of all the beds available for patients in Sierra Leone, funded over 100 burial teams, trained 4,000 frontline staff, provided three labs to test one third of all samples collected nationally and delivered over one million PPE suits and 150 vehicles. Britain remains fully committed to helping Sierra Leone reach zero Ebola cases. Our strategy has been successful so far, we have seen a dramatic reduction in the number of cases, but the fight is not over until the disease is eliminated.
Following five weeks at the centre, Julia spent three weeks on her return away from work as part of Public Health England protocol for people returning to the country after volunteering to assist with the Ebola crisis.