I was working with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Center for Immunization, preparing an online survey and conducting a multi-year assessment of school-based clinic activities in Maryland, when I was deployed to the CDC response for the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Suddenly, I was on a 60-day assignment at the CDC Quarantine Station at Dulles International Airport near Washington, DC.
At the Quarantine Station, I did airport surveillance, learned how to properly put on and remove personal protective equipment, and helped establish the airport’s first “Check and Report” Ebola station. I even got the opportunity to conduct care encounters―a joint effort by CDC and the US Customs and Border Protection―with international travelers at airport entry screenings. In this role, I spoke with incoming international travelers about US active monitoring protocols for Ebola and gave them tools to help them do daily health checks for the next 21 days after they entered the United States. Without PHAP, I would have never had such an extraordinary experience like this, where I have had the opportunity to learn prominent public health skills and positively impact the health of communities.