One Year Later: Reflections on the Ebola Crisis


It has been a year since Dr. Craig Spencer '13PH became New York City’s first and only Ebola patient. Shortly after returning from his time with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea in October 2014, he entered Bellevue Hospital with a 100.3 degree temperature and was admitted to the infectious-disease unit until he received a clean bill of health 19 days later.

Spencer's diagnosis brought more attention to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and raised questions about exposure, treatment, prevention, and resources with regards to the disease. In the year since his hospital stay, progress has been made in the battle against Ebola. But, in West Africa, the fight is far from over.

In a recent op-ed piece for The New York Times, Spencer spoke out about the misperceptions that "encourage inaction," especially the assumption that "enough trained personnel are available to combat the crisis and the aftermath." From Spencer's personal experience, this simply isn't the case:

I was able to avoid the tragic fate of so many of my West African colleagues because, in New York City, dozens of providers with unlimited resources were involved in my care — whereas, in Guinea, I had been the only caregiver for dozens of patients.

According to Spencer, "getting to zero" is an admirable goal, but staying at zero that will be the true feat. 

Jeff Schlegelmilch - the managing director for Strategic Planning and Operations at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Columbia Earth Institute - also offered his reflections on the crisis, one year later. In his article for The Hill, Schlegelmilch makes a compelling argument for the integration of the private sector into disaster response. To read his full assessment of the crisis, visit The Hill's website.

More on the Crisis from Columbia: