When Dr. Pranav Shetty landed in Liberia in early August 2014, only two of the country's 15 counties had fully operational Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs): Montserrado County, which is the seat of the national capital, and Lofa County, which is the site of the first confirmed Ebola cases in Liberia. With infection rates on a continuing upward climb across the country, many Liberians were putting themselves and others at great risk by travelling long distances to reach these ETUs, which were stretched beyond capacity and forced to turn patients away due to lack of beds.
To help reduce the patient burden on the existing ETUs, Dr. Shetty and his organization, International Medical Corps (IMC), decided to open an IMC-managed, USAID-funded ETU in Bong County. The decision to open a unit in Bong was a strategic one made with the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare: though the bulk of Ebola cases were in Montserrado and Lofa at the time, numbers in Bong, which lies between the other counties and has a large population, were rising. Save the Children constructed the facility and Dr. Shetty and his team, including many Liberian staff, were left to run it.
By September 2014, the Bong County ETU was up and running. Designed with great care for the Ebola patients in mind, IMC decided to also establish a graveyard at the site. The establishment of the graveyard was warmly received by Ebola survivors like Anita Cole, who lost her father to the virus. Funerals and marked graves are a critical part of Liberian culture. Graves are so important that the country has dedicated a national holiday - Decoration Day - to decorating them. The Bong County ETU graveyard has allowed families to be involved in burial processes, which are performed by trained workers in full protective gear, and has provided families with closure by dedicating a grave to their loved one that they can mark and decorate on their yearly holiday. This video pays tribute to Dr. Shetty and the IMC team that made both the ETU and the graveyard possible.