Sandra Jones at CDC’s Emergency Operations Center the day before she left for Sierra Leone. Photo courtesy of the CDC
On May 9, 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reached a milestone, sending the 1,000th field deployer to West Africa as part of the largest outbreak response in the agency’s history.
Sandra Jones is a 66-year-old CDC retiree, but volunteered to return to work when she learned the agency was looking for retired employees to help with the Ebola response.
“As a retiree, being on the outside, I saw how hard the agency was working and wanted to be of service. I’ve been given this opportunity to go to Sierra Leone on the health promotions team, and am so grateful to be able to contribute,” Jones says.
Jones was a pediatric nurse before starting her 20-year career in CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, where she spent decades working on research and policy for our youngest citizens.
“Throughout my career I worked with children in the clinic, in their schools and behind a desk doing research,” she says. “I am hoping to have the opportunity to work with some of the children orphaned by Ebola while I am in Sierra Leone.”
CDC has now sent more than 1,000 employees to Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone, many of whom have gone more than once. Thousands more have worked on the response from the agency’s headquarters in Atlanta.
“I’ve kept busy volunteering, teaching adults how to read, and going on a service trip to Haiti. But going to Sierra Leone gives me the opportunity to be in the presence of history, and proves 66 is not too old for anything,” she says with a laugh.