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Local woman helps fight Ebola outbreak: 'It's a scary time'

BELLEVUE, Wash. - Nestled in a Bellevue neighborhood, Lynn Pelton's comfortable home is half a world away from the West African nations ravaged by the deadly Ebola virus.

But Pelton said she is ready to leave the comfort and safety of home to help save lives a continent and an ocean away.

"I'm ready to go," said Pelton, who has volunteered with USAID to fight the virus in West Africa. "Sierra Leone is a second home. We've put in so much time, so much effort and now there's a lot of uncertainty. It's a scary time, and we're all wondering what happens next."

Pelton's ties to Sierra Leone stretch back to 2007 when her organization, Greatest Goal Ministries, opened a clinic there to work with the disabled, amputees and polio victims of the country.

From there her mission expanded to include disability sports and bringing cancer screening to the country.

But this summer, as the Ebola virus tightened its grip on the region, Pelton's focus was forced to change.

"My most recent scheduled trip was supposed to be in August until the Ebola epidemic hit," said Pelton. "It's going to spread very fast. I know the people know that because whole communities, whole families and whole generations have died."

Greatest Goal Ministries operates a free outpatient hospital in the city of Lakka, and in response to the Ebola outbreak, the military set up isolation tents directly outside the doors of the hospital.

"My 22-person staff saw patient counts drop from about 35 to 50 patients a day down to just about 12," said Pelton.

Calling Ebola a threat to both global health and U.S. national security, President Obama announced he will send 3,000 troops to West Africa to help contain the virus, but Pelton says more needs to be done - and it can start right here at home.

Through Greatest Goal Ministries, Pelton helped raise money to ship four 20-foot containers packed with medical supplies to Sierra Leone. One of those containers was packed in Kent thanks to coordination between Pelton and Gateway Medical Alliance.

"(Pelton) asked if there would be any way we could send supplies to Sierra Leone, and we said, 'Let's go for it,'" said Michael Spiger of Gateway Medical Alliance. "It's really important the whole world come together right now to bring this under control to help the people within those nations."

The containers include diapers, bleach, gloves, protective gear and hand sanitizer with the first shipment set to arrive Oct. 8.

"No single entity can do this alone," said Pelton. "Every piece that's contributed to that whole will make a difference."
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