Morgan Arrival Transcript

Title

Morgan Arrival Transcript

Transcription

MORGAN: I can use his name because of course by now he's written a book and he's all over the news and he's a great guy and a great family. Dr. Kent Brantly had been a family practitioner OB/GYN [obstetrician/gynecologist] over in Liberia and sort of watching Ebola smolder in the surrounding areas, and then watching it come closer and closer to where they were in Liberia and eventually seeing quite a few patients in Liberia, lots of patients in what would be really desperate situations for anybody who's only used to Western or American high-resource medical centers. We're talking about cinder block building and tents and wards where patients were on cot to cot to cot basically. I think they put together the most reasonable protocols they could with the equipment they had to take care of patients over there, but then when he got sick, he and Nancy Writebol were both ill and they worked for two organizations that were willing and able to fly them out of there. Through those phone calls with Dr. Ribner and the hospital and things like that, we agreed to take them.

One of our big concerns, my big concern personally, was I didn't know how much they had heard about what was going on over here. Sort of famously, people were up in arms, as I mentioned earlier, "how dare you bring that to Atlanta, why would you bring that to Atlanta and potentially expose an entire city to something for which there is no cure?" Because they didn't realize we had this unit and we felt very safe and all these things were already in place. But because I was worried that Dr. Brantly would be afraid himself, that he was being brought in but were we going to be afraid of him, are we going to be resentful of being put in this position? The first thing I did when we set up that room was we had a big whiteboard in the room and I put the names of the care providers that were going to be taking care of him and I said, "Welcome home, we are glad you're here." Because I really wanted him to feel like we were there willing and able to make him better. I didn't even know what that was going to take yet but I wanted him to know that there was no hesitation on our part despite what anything might be going on in the news. Of course, as it turns out, Dr. Brantly had not heard anything about what was going on in the news. It was a very good thing. And he got there and we were there to receive him and I was in the room. He walked out of that ambulance in his own--they had basically placed him in personal protective equipment to contain anything that he might have on him in the ambulance and in the flight over, and he walked in the room and we went about the business of getting him doffed basically, getting all that stuff off of him. And while he was lucid and speaking to us and we were able to have conversations about his medical history and everything else we do for patients when they first come in, as it turns out, over the next couple of weeks we realized he didn't remember that. He didn't really remember coming in. I think he and our other patients were actually more ill than they had realized themselves. If you think back to the last time you had the flu, that first day can be sort of just a blur, and I think that's exactly where they were, sort of in that stage where they were ill and not thinking completely clearly. But yeah, he was just such a nice human being.

Q: Even at first?

MORGAN: Even at first. Even at first, yeah. Not for a second--I think especially knowing he was a medical missionary--you know, I grew up in the South, I grew up in a religious family but I'm not very religious myself. In the South, you get used to sort of being condemned to death or eternal damnation on a regular basis. It's just what Southerners do to each other. One of the first questions you get asked if you live in a small town or a rural area or even some urban places I'm sure is, where do you go to church? If you don't have a suitable answer to that question, then people will assume you're going to Hell, which is okay. [laughs] But I was a little concerned that Dr. Brantly would also--you know, patients can put you in awkward positions unintentionally because they need to pray, they want you to pray with them, and that's fine and I'm certainly able to do that but I'm not--that's just not a thing that's real comfortable when you're trying to do your job. I didn't know what he was going to be like, and then his whole family got here. I mean, this man has a big family, his wife has a big family, they are wonderful, wonderful people, but there was a lot of mention of God's working His--you know, this is all in God's plan. So I just had to poke at Dr. Brantly. He's just a great guy. He's got a great sense of humor and so he would never swear or never even have a cross word. When his lovely wife, Amber, would want to be talking to him but he was busy doing something else, I'd say, "And Amber says get off the damn phone." And he'd look at me like, she did not. I know, but we just have to poke you a little bit. [laughter] He turned out to be a genuinely kind human being who I think intuitively understood that while he was a physician and is a physician, in his role here he was trying to be a compliant and easy-to-take-care-of patient, and of course he was. It was good. It was good. It was a great experience.

Citation

“Morgan Arrival Transcript,” CDC Museum Digital Exhibits, accessed June 14, 2024, http://cdcmuseum.org/items/show/797.