Metro nurse preparing for Liberia trip to fight Ebola epidemic

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A nurse from the metro is traveling to Liberia to battle the outbreak of a virus which has killed more than 6,000 people in West Africa.

Zach Phillips, 27, is preparing to apply his experience in nursing and helping homeless people to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

On Thursday morning, Phillips will begin a four-month stay in Liberia, working as an Ebola nurse at an Ebola treatment center near Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city. Phillips has worked as a nurse on other international relief missions as well as at hospitals in the metro, and now, he says it’s time for him to help internationally once again.

Phillips says he has apprehensive thoughts, but he isn’t backing out. He’s heading for a nation that has lost over 3,100 people to the aggressive virus.

“In all truth, I don’t know that I won’t get it,” Phillips said. “I really don’t, but I think that as with anything you do that is worthwhile requires risk.”

Phillips has packed his bags, and he won’t return to the U.S. until mid-March. He’s one of 15 American caregivers going to West Africa, where he’ll be stationed at an Ebola treatment unit, which is scheduled to open within the next two weeks.

“It’s important for me to help educate people and to say ‘The world is not a scary place. There is a place for you. There is something everyone can do to help those people in need’,” Phillips said.

Dan Weinbaum works with Heart to Heart International, the Lenexa-based humanitarian effort behind the treatment unit.

“People are still getting sick,” Weinbaum said. “People are still dying. Communities are being ravaged by this terrible virus. We’ve got to get there, and to get that ETU opened.”

Phillips realizes one person can’t cure the Ebola epidemic, but he points to many great events in history, saying that each of them began with personal sacrifice.

Weinbaum tells FOX 4 News three nurses from the metro will go to Liberia. In all, 200 people will work at that Ebola treatment unit, trying to stop the spread of the virus.

Click here for Phillips’ blog, and follow his travels to Liberia.

Click here for Sean’s FOX 4 Facebook page.

Click here for Sean’s Twitter feed.

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