Marj Ratel

Local charity joins fight against Ebola

Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation looking for help to ship hospital beds that are desperately needed in Ebola Intervention Units in Liberia

A Langley-based charity that brings health care to West Africa is helping in the Ebola crisis.

The Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation (KBNF) is hoping to ship 1,000 hospital beds that are desperately needed in the Ebola Intervention Units in Liberia.

KBNF founder Marj Ratel is hoping local residents want to help.

“We’ve all been watching in horror as the Ebola crisis unfolds and this is something Langley can do to help to give the people in West Africa hope,” said Ratel.

“This is tangible and the beds will have names on them indicating they came from Canada. It will show that the people suffering that we cared.”

Ratel has been in constant contact with medical professionals in various parts of West Africa, including with Dr. Francis Kateh, who has been appointed national incident manager of the Ebola response.

“Dr. Kateh shares that in one Liberian county alone, 22 of the 29 health care workers had died,” she said.

Nurses and doctors are treating very sick Ebola patients on mattresses set up on the floor. The situation is difficult and units are overwhelmed.

As a nurse herself at Vancouver General Hospital for many years, Ratel said she can’t imagine having to care for patients who are violently ill while on the floor.

“I can’t imagine spending hours bending over or treating patients on my hands and knees,” she said. The heat is unbearable right now too, she said.

Doctors are having to go outside and take off all their protective wear every 40 minutes or so, or they will pass out.

So far KBNF has collected 80 beds from Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, 20 from Victoria, Kamloops has donated 20 and Saskatchewan has 100 available to go.

K-Bro has donated 13 pallets of linen. They are still collecting hospital pillows and other hospital equipment and will fill in the container’s gaps with much needed summer clothing for residents there who have “nothing.”

“If we could get the funding we have three containers that could go out today,” said Ratel.

For 1,000 hospital beds, it would take 18 containers. At around $5,000 a container, they are hoping to collect funds from local residents.

KBNF has partnered with Compassionate Warehouse in Victoria and Diamond Delivery in locating and transporting hospital beds and medical supplies to a Victoria loading site in preparation for departure to Liberia.  Seaspan is donating barge fees during this current crisis.

KBNF has successfully transported 23 containers to West Africa over the past 14 years. Ratel has personally met numerous containers, most recently in the spring just before the Ebola outbreak.

Since Ebola, there are no elective surgeries being done in hard hit areas.

“The resources are stretched so thin. People are dying of other things now. If someone’s appendix burst, he or she could die. People can’t get help with malaria right now.”

A group of young men with disabilities from Walnut Grove recently learned of the foundation and the work being done and decided to raise money. Stephen, Jared and Vernon arranged a barbecue fundraiser Sept 29. Ratel, and Dr. Jocelyne Lapointe, KBNF secretary, joined with the enthusiastic members and their families and friends. A total of $515 was raised.

KBNF is partnering with team members in Ghana to build an emergency and clinical specialties centre that will be something akin to the health systems we take for granted here.

If you would like to help with the Ebola crisis, donations can be made online at www.kbnf.org or by mail at 9131 207B Street, Langley, V1M 2P5. Income tax deductible receipts available for donations over $25.