Kaci Hickox, the first nurse to quarantined under a strict new policy on her return from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, criticized her treatment in a Dallas Morning News op-ed on Saturday.
Her words echoed concerns voiced by medical professionals that a mandatory 21-day quarantine for doctors and nurses who have treated Ebola patients would deter volunteers from signing on to fight the epidemic.
“I am scared about how health care workers will be treated at airports when they declare that they have been fighting Ebola in West Africa,” Hickox wrote “I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganization, fear and, most frightening, quarantine.”CONTINUE READING…..
Hickox arrived at Newark Liberty International airport on Friday and was ushered into a quarantine office, where she was kept for six hours, according to her account.
She said she was treated with hostility and was not given an explanation of what was happening or when she might be able to leave:
“One after another, people asked me questions. Some introduced themselves, some didn’t. One man who must have been an immigration officer because he was wearing a weapon belt that I could see protruding from his white coveralls barked questions at me as if I was a criminal.
Two other officials asked about my work in Sierra Leone. One of them was from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They scribbled notes in the margins of their form, a form that appeared to be
inadequate for the many details they are collecting.
I was tired, hungry and confused, but I tried to remain calm. My temperature was taken using a forehead scanner and it read a temperature of 98. I was feeling physically healthy but emotionally exhausted.
Three hours passed. No one seemed to be in charge. No one would tell me what was going on or what would happen to me.
I called my family to let them know that I was OK. I was hungry and thirsty and asked for something to eat and drink. I was given a granola bar and some water. I wondered what I had done wrong”.
Public health experts have said that mandatory quarantines for people who may have been exposed to Ebola are not medically necessary, since a person does not become contagious until they exhibit symptoms of the disease.