CDC Responds to the 2014 Ebola Outbreak: Francisco

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Photo: CDC Quarantine specialist Francisco

CDC Quarantine specialist Francisco

It’s been all hands on deck at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the agency battles the spreading Ebola outbreak in West Africa. But it’s not all field work in African countries. Staffers from all departments have been pitching in with the response, including CDC Quarantine specialist Francisco. In August he left his three-person CDC office in Puerto Rico to spend a month in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Atlanta, working on the Ebola response.

“Being in the EOC is invigorating. It is a good place to bounce off ideas and get a sense of community,” he says.

Francisco serves as the Chief of Science for the Global Migration Task Force, which is part of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. He and his team within the EOC develop protocols that reduce the risk of travelers with Ebola from entering the United States, or from leaving the country where they were infected. They work with airlines, airport security and medical personnel, and border security agents. Their department teaches airport workers how to screen travelers coming in and out of West African airports for signs of Ebola.

“With Ebola the stakes are so high. We are just one piece of a larger global effort,” Francisco says.

While he enjoys his work, the time away from home is not easy on him or his family. He is married with three children, all of whom attend different schools. His wife has had to juggle getting them to and from school, as well as all their extracurricular activities.

“My family is very proud that I am affiliated with CDC. They know they are making a contribution by having a member of their family away. They think it’s a worthwhile cause so they try to do their best,” he says.

Francisco says his work with Ebola reminds him of the famous quote by a NASA custodian in the 1960’s. President Kennedy was visiting the facility for the first time, and asked the custodian what he did for the agency. The man responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon, Mr. President.” This resonates with Francisco. He says, “I think everyone is pitching in with all their little bits and pieces to try to put their best foot forward for not only the CDC, but also the American people.”