PAYNESVILLE, Liberia (Dec. 8, 2014) -- When the Ebola virus found the remote village of Tappita, it took more than a day for it to be properly diagnosed. Soon, it will take a matter of minutes.
A new Ebola Treatment Unit will open in Tappita within the month, and Tappita Mayor Sarah Z. Mendoabor said the town is elated.
"It's a great thing for us," said Mendoabor. "Now we will know if someone has Ebola in about 20 minutes."
Without the Ebola Treatment Unit, or ETU, it takes more than a day for a potential Ebola patient to travel to the capitol of Monrovia for treatment, she said.
"That's if the roads are good. It's more like a day and a half," said Mendoabor.
The construction of the ETU has been managed by the 36th Engineer Brigade, from Fort Hood, Texas.
Despite only having one reported case of Ebola in the village, Maj. Tony Costello, design engineer for the 36th Eng. Bde., said this 50-bed ETU was strategically placed.
There have been more than 250 cases of Ebola in the surrounding county of Nimba, according to the World Health Organization, and the roads to Tappita are easily accessible to the rest of the county, said the Fairburn, Georgia, native.
Mendoabor said she is very thankful for aid from the United States.
"We have always been like a little brother to America," she said. "We have always loved America, and for them to come in and help out at a time like this, reinforces that."
When the Ebola virus was strongest the more than 7,000 residents of Tappita were fearful and recluse, said Mendoabor.
"Everyone would stay inside and avoid contact. People were out of work, but now things are getting better," she said. "They are out in the community and getting ready for school to start."
Schools in Liberia have been closed since June due to the Ebola outbreak and are scheduled to reopen soon.
When the ETU is opened, it will be handed over to Heart to Heart International, headquartered in Kansas City.
"Once the ETU is completed, we will bring in a number of doctors and nurses from the states," said James Mitchum, CEO of Heart to Heart International. "We will open the ETU and take care of any Ebola patient in the area."
He expects more than 150 employees working out of the ETU in three shifts.
Heart to Heart International originally talked to other organizations about playing more of a support role, but that changed when they saw how Ebola effected the region, said Mitchum.
"We just saw that the need was so great," he said.