First, she pulls on the surgical gloves. Then, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia climbs into a Tyvek suit resembling baggy white coveralls. Over that, she dons rubber boots, an apron, a gown, and another pair of gloves. Then, she covers her head in a hood with a clear plastic front, strapping the attached air-filtering device to her waist.
With practice, Bhadelia can get into this protective garb in about 10 minutes. In recent weeks, she has been practicing, again and again, mindful of every step, especially the high-risk task of removing clothing that, in a clinic setting, could be soiled with dangerous microbes.
It will not be comfortable in the African heat, but Bhadelia is confident this equipment will keep her safe in Sierra Leone, the heart of history’s worst Ebola outbreak, where she is scheduled to go next week.
Bhadelia, an epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center, is traveling with two other Americans under the auspices of the World Health Organization. They will fly into the capital city of Freetown, meet up with other physicians, and head into the countryside.
Is she scared? “Yes. It would be cavalier not to be,” Bhadelia said. “What you do in this situation is you look at it and you say, ‘Can I contribute?’ In my mind, what I can contribute is much higher than the fear that I have for my own safety.”
You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month
Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.
- High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
- Convenient access across all of your devices
- Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
- Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
- Less than 25¢ a week