Dr. Rick Sacra, the Holden physician who contracted the deadly Ebola virus this week while working in a hospital in Liberia, is currently being transferred to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He will begin receiving treatment in the Biocontainment Patient Care Unit at the hospital when he arrives Friday morning.
Dr. Sacra is a faculty member at University of Massachusetts Medical School and works at the Family Health Center of Worcester.
“Rick is clearly sick, but is in good spirits, and walked onto the plane,” wife Debbie Sacra said about Rick in a media briefing this afternoon.
“Rick’s trips to Liberia are a part of our lives, but that doesn’t make them easy,” said Mrs. Sacra. “When he left at the beginning of August, we understood there was a risk that he could become sick with the virus. But we knew the people of Liberia needed him and a hospital to open. He is not someone who can stand back when there is a need that he can take care of.”
Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, Associate Provost for Global Health at UMass Medical School, who has also worked with Dr. Sacra in Liberia, said that they currently do not know how Dr. Sacra contracted the virus, since the time between exposure and the development of symptoms can be up to three weeks.
Dr. Luzuriaga said in a media briefing Wednesday afternoon that the transport teams who conduct transfers like Dr. Sacra’s case, in general, are very highly trained in transporting ill patients and “are taking all of the necessary precautions.”
The Nebraska Medical Center is one of the few facilities around the country that has the equipment and the staff with the “very intense training for infectious diseases such as Ebola,” said Dr. Luzuriaga.
According to the SIM press release on Dr. Sacra’s transfer, many organizations had to coordinate to make his return to the United States possible, including the U.S. Department of State and The Nebraska Medical Center.