By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities nurse on the front lines of the Ebola crisis in Africa made it home for the holidays.

Carrie Jo Cain spent the past two months in Sierra Leone, training people to work in Ebola Community Care Centers.

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She spent much of her childhood in Sierra Leone, where her parents were missionaries. Speaking the language and having an understanding of the culture have proven extremely helpful.

Cain soaks up as much quality time with her family as she can.

“The decision to come back wasn’t easy,” Cain said. “I knew I would leave a really big hole, but it was really important to come back and see my family.”

The former St. Paul Children’s Hospital nurse trained and hired staff to fight Ebola in Sierra Leone. She helped start a new concept, Community Care Centers, and she now oversees 15 of those clinics.

“When I got there, people were afraid to identify as being sick,” Cain said. “They were afraid to go to the hospitals. They were afraid of the holding centers.”

Education at the ground level changed that.

“People are now identifying much sooner, so when they are sick, they come to the community care center,” Cain said. “We screen them, and if they have symptoms that need to be watched, we admit them.”

The centers are designed to get patients out of the home for treatment so they don’t infect relatives.

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“We have finally started to see our numbers level off and begin to come down,” she said.

She realized while she was there, how much more was needed–everyday things like Ziploc bags, gloves and rags, and computers, printers and cameras to document the progress.

She’ll take five of trunks filled with supplies with her when she returns to Sierra Leone for the next four months.

“If we do a good job with the basics, we can make an incredible impact on this illness,” Cain said.

Cain flies out Saturday morning.

When she’s back in Sierra Leone, there will be a new undertaking: starting an ambulance service for rural areas.

They’ll also start transporting survivors home, something that hasn’t yet been done.

Cain is also trying to raise enough money to give each Community Care Center worker a bag of rice.

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To donate, you can visit World Hope’s website, and put “CCC” in the comment area for the donation to go towards that rice.

Jennifer Mayerle