Julia Ritch

Julia Ritch Domestic Ebola Response

When I began my second-year rotation in the Epidemiology Department at Dallas County Health and Human Services Department, I thought I would be doing data analysis, patient interviews, and disease surveillance. Then suddenly on September 30, 2014, the next thing I knew I was on the front lines of the Dallas Ebola Response, working 10-hour days interviewing family and friends of the patient and performing twice-daily temperature checks.

For me, the most rewarding work of the Ebola response was interacting directly with the community contacts, including being among the first to meet with a few of the patient’s extended family members. I helped walk them through the process of temperature monitoring, addressed any physical needs they had, and provided moral support during a difficult period of stigma, fear, and uncertainty. Being able to help on the front lines of this historic public health response was an unexpected, but tremendously exciting, opportunity. This experience will always be memorable to me because it highlighted the flexibility, communication, compassion, persistence, and resourcefulness needed to accomplish public health goals.

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