A nurse who recently returned from Sierra Leone where she treated Ebola patients has lashed out after begin forced into mandatory quarantine after testing negative for Ebola. Too much to be better safe than sorry?
Kaci Hickox recently returned from her assignment with Doctors Without Borders on Friday. She was in Sierra Leone, helping combat the spread of the disease there and treating Ebola patients. Upon her arrival back in the US she was promptly placed in quarantine at a New Jersey hospital despite testing negative for a preliminary test for Ebola—she will remain there for 21 days in mandatory quarantine.
Angry with the situation, she penned a piece for Dallas Morning News, telling her side of the story.
In the piece, she claims her situation is one she "would not wish on anyone" and she expresses major concern for other health workers returning from the areas affected by Ebola, writing:
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. I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganization, fear and, most frightening, quarantine.
Hickox claims that when she informed an immigration official that she traveled from Sierra Leone, she was escorted to another room, where one of the airport employees "barked questions at me as if I was a criminal."
She goes on to explain that her temperature was taken with a forehead scanner and read 98 degrees. After three hours, and no word on what was going on, her temperature was taken again and it read 101 degrees. Despite explaining that the forehead scanner recorded a higher temperature because she was flushed and upset, she was escorted to a hospital—after three more hours.
At the hospital, I was escorted to a tent that sat outside of the building. The infectious disease and emergency department doctors took my temperature and other vitals and looked puzzled. "Your temperature is 98.6," they said. "You don't have a fever but we were told you had a fever."
After my temperature was recorded as 98.6 on the oral thermometer, the doctor decided to see what the forehead scanner records. It read 101. The doctor felts my neck and looked at the temperature again. "There's no way you have a fever," he said. "Your face is just flushed."
My blood was taken and tested for Ebola. It came back negative.
Hickox goes on to share some immensely difficult experiences treating Ebola patients with "dignity and humanity" depute their suffering.
The epidemic continues to ravage West Africa. Recently, the World Health Organization announced that as many as 15,000 people have died from Ebola. We need more health care workers to help fight the epidemic in West Africa. The U.S. must treat returning health care workers with dignity and humanity.
Image via Getty.