A BRAVE Basingstoke nurse is quitting her job to help people affected by the devastating Ebola outbreak in west Africa.
Isolation ward nurse Natalie Mounter, who is 32, is preparing to head to Sierra Leone where she will be on the frontline of the battle to combat the deadly disease that has claimed thousands of lives.
More than 600 people have died in Sierra Leone, including 61 healthcare workers – but Natalie is determined to go into the danger zone to help those in need.
She said: “I have a friend out there at the moment. I have been talking to her and they need more people to help. It is something I’m interested in doing, and it is one of those situations where it is quite easy to have a direct impact on helping people.
“I am a bit scared, of course, but it’s probably a good thing as I will need to remain vigilant about what I will be doing.”
Natalie, who has handed in her notice at Basingstoke hospital, is going to work in an isolation ward in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.
She is one of around 160 British volunteers who are taking park in combating the world’s worst Ebola virus outbreak – one that has claimed more than 2,800 lives.
Nearly 600 people have died in Sierra Leone, of which 61 were healthcare workers, according to the World Health Organisation.
Explaining her decision to go to the frontline of the fight against the disease, Natalie said: “I feel we in the West have a responsibility to help, and things are starting to happen, not just in the UK, but in the US and Cuba. We just need to help to get this outbreak under control.”
Natalie is currently a staff nurse on the isolation ward at Basingstoke hospital, treating patients with infections such as MRSA and clostridium difficile.
She will travel to Sierra Leone on Saturday, October 4, as part of a partnership between King’s College Hospital Trust in London and Connaught Hospital, in Freetown.
The partnership was set up before the latest Ebola outbreak, to share best practice, but the trust decided to stay in the country and provide clinical help.
The nurse, who has worked and lived at Basingstoke hospital for the past three years, said her trip to Sierra Leone could last at least three months.
She said: “I am interested in infection control, and I have always been interested in doing aid work.
“I am in a position where I can get up and leave – I do not have children or a mortgage or things keeping me here so it makes sense to go.
“I have a friend out there at the moment. I have been talking to her and they need more people to help.
“It is something I’m interested in doing, and it is one of those situations where it is quite easy to have a direct impact on helping people.”
Natalie said her family, friends and colleagues at Basingstoke hospital have been supportive of her decision to volunteer.
She said she will work in the isolation ward at Connaught Hospital, treating patients with Ebola and preparing the bodies of those who die. Her role might also involve the training of local healthcare workers.
The nurse said challenges she will face will include a lack of equipment, and building trust between people in Sierra Leone and healthcare professionals.
The partnership has so far received £20,000 in donations to support its Ebola response in Sierra Leone.
The money will be spent on air fares for volunteer nurses, like Natalie, and doctors who will work in the isolation ward, for the procurement and shipment of essential medical supplies including protection suits, masks and aprons, and a performance-based bonus for Sierra Leonean staff who are working in the isolation unit.
To contribute to the appeal, visit justgiving.com/kslpebolaresponse.