On arriving in Geneva to wait out his required 21-day, self-monitored quarantine, Dr. Darin Portnoy says he was looking forward to a few runs—he hadn’t had time to work out on his Ebola mission, and there was no easy path for a jog between his living quarters and the Ebola treatment center—and was hoping he might find a Thanksgiving dinner. He found one listing quickly, at the American International Club, but along with turkey and fixings, a James Brown impersonator was to MC, and Portnoy says he couldn’t face going from four weeks of treating Ebola to a room full of ex-pats lip-synching to “I feel good … and I knew that I would now.”
Overall, Portnoy says, reentry after his time in the Ebola zone was going well enough. His first stop after Monrovia, in Liberia, had been Brussels, where Portnoy spent a long day at the Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders office. With those leading MSF’s response to the epidemic, which has now claimed 5,444 lives in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the Bronx family physician discussed what’s been working (cheap cell phones so patients who arrive at the clinics without them can stay in touch with family, more aggressive intravenous hydration at critical stages) as well as what can still be improved in the field (more rapid response teams that can travel to new clusters of cases as they’re reported). He also sat for some mandatory counseling with a “psychosocial” team.