Kansas City nurse returns from Ebola work in West Africa

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The head of infection control at Truman Medical Centers is back at work. That's after fighting Ebola in West Africa, and being isolated at home in Kansas City for three weeks to make sure he didn't have the disease.

Tom Button, a nurse, went to Sierra Leone for the World Health Organization, and saw a country that lacks resources and practices to fight Ebola. Open sewage ran from a hospital into the community. One family with Ebola was in a tent outside a hospital. Their body fluids were running down a hill.

"Patients and visitors were actually walking through it and contaminating the entire hospital," said Button.

His team got the family into isolation. They also shut down a hospital for three weeks after finding a dead woman and an Ebola patient lying in close proximity to a new mother and her baby. They reconfigured the facility and added a screening station for Ebola.

So is the epidemic that has claimed 15,000 lives in West Africa getting under control?

"If I flipped a coin and said which way it is gonna go, I still would not know an answer," said Button.

He says he had no direct contact with body fluids of Ebola patients. But when he returned to Kansas City, he stayed home for three weeks under the policy of his employer. He was monitored by the Kansas City Health Department for any signs of Ebola. There were none.

"It got pretty tiring toward the end, saying oh, I can't wait 'til this is over," Button said.

He is back at Truman where he's in charge of infection control.

"I absolutely would do it again," he said.

He says his team made long-term changes in Sierra Leone that should help prevent the spread of Ebola and other diseases.

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