A nurse who was quarantined in New Jersey after returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa described the experience in a harrowing first-person account published Saturday.
The Dallas Morning News published the narrative from Kaci Hickox, who worked in Sierra Leone for Doctors Without Borders. She showed no symptoms upon her return, but the hospital is requiring her to remain quarantine for the 21 days that will ensure she does not have the disease.
“This is not a situation I would wish on anyone, and I am scared for those who will follow me,” Hickox wrote.
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.
“The epidemic continues to ravage West Africa. Recently, the World Health Organization announced that as many as 15,000 people have died from Ebola,” Hickox said. “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.”