Saturday, July 9, 2016


Dr. Timothy Flanigan and two of his colleagues while working as a volunteer in Liberia.
(Photo courtesy of Dr. Flanigan)

This week's arts and culture column is on a man who, full disclosure, has become a dear friend.

Here's how it begins:

Dr. Tim Flanigan of the Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, is a husband, a father of five, an infectious disease doctor and a professor at Brown University.

In September 2014, at the height of the Ebola epidemic, he traveled to Liberia as a volunteer for two months to help organize the response.

“Listen, I’m no good in a tsunami or an earthquake. I’m not an orthopedic guy; I’m an infectious disease doc. If I didn’t go during the Ebola epidemic, when would I go?”

Everything you need to protect against Ebola, it turns out, can be bought at Home Depot. He packed seven hockey bags with supplies: suits, gloves, goggles. He and Sister Barbara Brilliant, FMM, made the last flight from Boston on August 31, before Delta stopped flying to Monrovia.

Father Miguel Pajares, 75, the chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital there, had contracted Ebola and died five days later. The director of the hospital, Brother Patrick Nshamdze, also became infected and died, as did nine of the remaining 15 workers. The hospital was closed. Dr. Flanigan and Sister Barbara — who has worked in Liberia for 35 years — and her team worked to train and work side by side with the hospital staff to reopen.


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