NEWS UPDATE: Monday morning, the Department of Health issued the following statement: "Since testing negative for Ebola on early Saturday morning, the patient being monitored in isolation at University Hospital in Newark has thankfully been symptom free for the last 24 hours. As a result, and after being evaluated in coordination with the CDC and the treating clinicians at University Hospital, the patient is being discharged. After consulting with her, she has requested transport to Maine, and that transport will be arranged via a private carrier not via mass transit or commercial aircraft. … Health officials in Maine have been notified of her arrangements and will make a determination under their own laws on her treatment when she arrives."
The nurse quarantined at a New Jersey hospital because she had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa says the process of keeping her isolated is “inhumane.”
Kaci Hickox told CNN by telephone Sunday that she felt her “basic human rights have been violated.” She also questioned why politicians are making decisions she said should be left to health officials.
Hickox is the first traveler quarantined under new guidelines established in New Jersey and New York. She said she is “completely asymptomatic” and tested negative for Ebola in a preliminary evaluation.
Hickox says she has been told little about the quarantine process and noted that hospital workers in contact with her are allowed to leave and be with their families.
State health officials say Hickox has been made aware of quarantine details. They say she remains isolated in a climate-controlled extended care area.
“This is not a situation I would wish on anyone, and I am scared for those who will follow me,” Hickox wrote of her quarantine in an op-ed published Saturday in the Dallas Morning News.
“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. … The U.S. must treat returning health care workers with dignity and humanity.”
In her CNN interview, Hickox blasted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for describing her as “obviously ill.”
“First of all, I don’t think he’s a doctor. Secondly, he’s never laid eyes on me. And thirdly, I’ve been asymptomatic since I’ve been here,” Hickox said Sunday.
“I’m sorry, but that’s just a completely unacceptable statement in my opinion. For [Christie] – a politician who’s trusted and respected – to make a statement that’s categorically not true is just unacceptable and appalling.”
Lawyer Norman Siegal, former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, told CNN that he would be filing papers to get Hickox a court hearing.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio commented on Hickox’s case Sunday night at a press conference, saying that “what happened to her was inappropriate.”
“We owe her better than that, and all the people who do this work, better than that,” he added.
For more information on Ebola, go to www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/.
• Additional reporting by ALEX HEIGL