Nurse leaves mandatory New Jersey quarantine for Ebola, says her rights were violated

Kaci Hickox volunteered her nursing skills when the Ebola outbreak hit, traveling to West Africa to treat patients under the care of Doctors Without Borders.…
Nurse leaves mandatory New Jersey quarantine for Ebola, says her rights were violated

This undated image provided by University of Texas at Arlington shows Kaci Hickox. In a Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 telephone interview with CNN, Hickox, the nurse quarantined at a New Jersey hospital because she had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa, said the process of keeping her isolated is “inhumane.” (AP Photo/University of Texas at Arlington)

Kaci Hickox volunteered her nursing skills when the Ebola outbreak hit, traveling to West Africa to treat patients under the care of Doctors Without Borders. When she returned home, however, she was placed under a mandatory 21-day quarantine in New Jersey, despite the fact she was without Ebola symptoms and had tested negative on medical screenings.

The forced detainment didn’t sit well with Hickox who told reporters she felt her treatment was inhumane. Not only was Hickox without symptoms, she tested negative for Ebola twice, yet remained in quarantine at University Hospital in Newark. During that time she had access to her phone, the Internet, magazines, newspapers, and whatever takeout food she desired, according to the New Jersey Health Department, but was denied the right to leave until the confinement period was over.

SEE ALSO: Scientists warn against Ebola quarantine but politicians insist

“This is an extreme that is really unacceptable, and I feel like my basic human rights have been violated,” Hickox told CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.” “To put me through this emotional and physical stress is completely unacceptable.”

Ebola Quarantined Nur_Baid-2

This undated image provided by University of Texas at Arlington shows Kaci Hickox. In a Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 telephone interview with CNN, Hickox, the nurse quarantined at a New Jersey hospital because she had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa, said the process of keeping her isolated is “inhumane.” (AP Photo/University of Texas at Arlington)

Hickox’s advocates claim the quarantine punishes the young nurse for her humanitarian efforts, and could act as a discouraging example for other medical personnel who might want to donate their time and expertise to West Africa. Medical staff are already stretched thin in the heavy-hit Ebola areas, and volunteers are at the top of the list when it comes to necessary aid from other countries.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stuck by his policy over the weekend, stating to reporters he had no second thoughts about his decision; however, today it appears Kaci Hickox will be released regardless. According to a statement by the New Jersey Health Department, Hickox has been “symptom free for the last 24 hours,” and the organization decided to discharge her after consulting with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention.

Though it is true the CDC considered the New Jersey policy necessary, there is speculation Hickox’s release had something to do with the fact that she hired a civil right’s attorney and planned to sue the State of New Jersey for unfair treatment.

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Not everyone is sold on Hickox’s story, however, and there is concern that it may be impossible to create Ebola protocols that are “fair” to everyone. Both New York and New Jersey governments have implemented strict quarantine requirements for travelers, under the traditional belief “it’s better safe than sorry.” Though the federal government does not support these stringent Ebola protocols, supporters feel the health risk of Ebola outweighs the discomfort of a few potentially exposed individuals.

Among some circles, the 21-day requirement is even considered low; the World Health Organization notes Ebola–in a small fraction of cases– can take more than 40 days to incubate and show symptoms.