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Medical Technology Alumna Honored by NIH for Ebola Care Efforts

By Lauren Whetzel-Siburkis

Elizabeth Elliott In the midst of the recent Ebola scare in the United States, medical technology alumna Elizabeth Elliott MT’09 volunteered to run samples from Ebola patients in a biosafety laboratory at National Institutes of Health (NIH). More notably, she worked with a team of medical professionals who monitored Nina Pham, the Texas nurse who was admitted to the NIH Clinical Center on Oct. 16 with the Ebola virus disease – and discharged a week later, free of the virus.

 “I will admit it was a little scary dealing with a disease that is so deadly, but the procedures and protocols we followed went beyond what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended, so I knew that I would be safe,” said Elliott, who has been a medical technologist with NIH for more than three years.

Elliott said she underwent extensive training regarding how to properly put on and remove the personal protective equipment that was worn to minimize exposure to the virus. She was also charged with decontaminating the biosafety laboratory each week, and continues to do so in the event another Ebola patient arrives to the clinic.

The efforts of Elliott – and the other healthcare professionals with NIH – did not go unnoticed, as they were recently honored with the prestigious NIH Clinical Center Director's Award.

“It was an honor to receive this [NIH] award because very few employees receive this award each year,” said Elliott “I volunteered to step up during the Ebola scare because I genuinely care about the well-being of others, and to make a difference in someone else's life makes me smile.”

She also had the opportunity to attend President Barack Obama’s recent speech at NIH Clinical Center, where he praised the contributions of NIH staff, and emphasized the need for emergency Congressional authorization of resources to ensure that the United States' research and public health efforts against Ebola will lead as quickly as possible to an end to this devastating outbreak.

“I didn't actually get to meet the President, but it was still a cool experience to say I have been in the same room as the President of the United States,” said Elliott. 

Elliott is currently pursing her MS in forensic science at Stevenson University.

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