WesternU alumnus Adolfo Granados, DO ’00, is stationed in West Africa, mentoring medical officers with the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Ministry of National Defense (MOD) to support their efforts and provide assistance to battle the Ebola outbreak.

In a matter of weeks, Liberia has become the hub of the Ebola crisis.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest in history, with 3,069 suspected or confirmed cases and 1,552 suspected case deaths as of August 28, 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Granados graduated from Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP) in 2000. He is a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy, and serves as the Branch Head/Officer-in-Charge of Naval Branch Health Clinic Chula Vista and Naval Branch Health Clinic Eastlake in San Diego, California. In February 2014, he was deployed to support Operation Onward Liberty, and is stationed at Barclay Training Center, Ministry of National Defense, Monrovia, Liberia.

While his primary job is to take care of medical needs for his team, he also mentors the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the AFL and the MOD, as well as the Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) for operations in charge of all military medical clinics in Liberia. In this capacity, he assists the CMO with the strategic, tactical, and operational development of the Liberian military medical command and with mentoring the DCMO in overall operations of the Liberian military medical clinics.

"This is a serious situation, but my team is safe and our risk is minimal," Granados said. "We are here to mentor the AFL, and at this time of crisis is when they need us most."

Granados said the magnitude of the crisis has mobilized the international community to assist the people of West Africa.

"The government of Liberia has declared a state of emergency and has mobilized multiple resources to educate the people and implement preventive measures to curb the spread of the disease," he said.

Multiple international agencies, including the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders, are lending support and expertise. The Department of Health and Human Services is coordinating support efforts through the CDC and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID recently deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team to Liberia, which will coordinate the U.S. government’s response to the Ebola outbreak.

Many health care workers have died during the current Ebola outbreak, due in large part to the medical capabilities in Liberia being limited. A disease of this magnitude has overwhelmed the country’s resources, Granados said.

He and his team are not among those health care workers and remain safe, yet they are on high alert and taking many precautions.

Granados was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and is the oldest of four brothers. His family immigrated to Los Angeles when he was 14. He attended Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School in East Los Angeles, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with an emphasis on international relations from UCLA, where he met his wife, Myrna. They have been married 19 years and have two children, Elena, 15, and Matthew, 12.

Granados found his way to WesternU as a medical student with the help of a UCLA counselor who suggested osteopathic medicine, and recommended a few books on the subject.

"The books got me really interested and excited about osteopathic medicine," Granados said.

Granados called COMP and set up a visit. He met various professors and students, sat in a few classes, and took a tour of the campus, which sold him on this being the school for him. During this process he met Ann Ellis, then the recruiter for COMP (now Assistant Dean of Student Affairs in the College of Optometry) who coached him through the application process. Over the years they kept in touch, developing what has become a life-long friendship.

"Adolfo was one of those prospective students who came well-prepared, who was serious about wanting to become an osteopathic physician, and specifically he wanted to be trained at COMP," Ellis said. "When he was admitted, I knew he was going to be one of the hardest working students in the class."

Ellis said she is honored to play a small part in Dr. Granados’ professional development and is proud of his commitment and accomplishments.

"What I liked about WesternU was that I felt like I belonged, that I was a person — not just a body in a sea of people in a huge lecture hall. That my fellow students, school staff, and the professors actually cared about me and my learning, and that I was not alone since I had plenty of support to ensure my success," Granados said. "Compassion abounded in our campus from the way we interacted with fellow students, the great relationship with our professors, the unwavering support from staff, and the overall sense of family."

Granados said WesternU instilled in him that compassionate, holistic care is the best way to treat patients, an approach that has come in handy in Liberia.

"Compassion is not lost here; it just needs to be redirected," Granados said

The Ebola outbreak began in March and had minimal impact on Liberia at that time, Granados said.

During the first couple of months, Granados and the CMO developed an Ebola awareness campaign to educate soldiers and their families about Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) and the ways to prevent infection.

"We will continue to support their efforts and provide assistance as we battle this disease together," Granados said. "Unfortunately, the disease continues to spread, but we are taking every precaution to limit exposure by increasing awareness about the disease, providing regular updates, and enforcing our preventive measures, such as frequent hand washing, avoiding contact with ill-appearing people, and avoiding travel to impacted areas."