Even though she may not know it, Kaci Hickox, the nurse who was placed in quarantine despite testing negative twice for Ebola, is making feminists everywhere proud. Yesterday Hickox was released and allowed to travel home to Maine where she lives, after considerable political furor. Importantly, Hickox immediately sought legal counsel, after being detained, insisting that her rights were being violated in New Jersey. Last Friday, Hickox arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport from Sierra Leone and was detained after airport authorities allegedly determined she was running a low fever.
“Hickox, 29, was the first person forced into New Jersey’s mandatory quarantine after arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport Friday. She had previously treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone for Doctors Without Borders, but never registered a fever, leaving no medical reason to keep her quarantined,” according to her attorney Norman Siegel via ABC News and Good Morning America earlier today.
Here is this not even 30-year-old woman who is a nurse which is a noble profession all by itself. Add to that Hickox is a brave American who is concerned with the welfare of other people across the globe. So it is not all that surprising that she was quick to use her voice and demand her freedom be respected.
Governor Christie speaks out
What is still moderately surprising are the dismissive and blatantly sexist remarks that Governor Chris Christie shared on a campaign stop in Rhode Island yesterday. As difficult as it is to believe that yes, because the Governor of New Jersey, a possible 2016 Presidential candidate, was campaigning, the remarks must not have been off-the-cuff. Governor Christie practically dared Hickox to “sue him,” as reported by NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell yesterday.
Even more troubling, he spoke of Hickox in a way it would be reasonable to suggest he was being sexist from the start. The Governor would not be referring to Hickox in such a dismissive manner, if she were not a female. Christie, in essence, said loud and clear that when this woman went home and calmed down, she would understand why Christie had her held in New Jersey, in violation of her rights, when all she likely wanted was to go home after the long journey from Sierra Leone to the U.S. It is a good thing for women all across this country that Hickox did not “understand” what Governor Christie was doing.
“I’m glad she can be comfortable and back in her home now where she wants to be, but I hope, I think upon reflection she will understand that my job is to protect the health and safety of the people of New Jersey and the region,” Christie said in Rhode Island yesterday.
It seems the news stories about the Ebola virus outbreak are endless and represent fear-mongering, yet this one story of Kaci Hickox is one that highlights the importance of each of us not being afraid of illness, of a politician overstepping his authority, or of using one’s voice in a democracy.
In protecting oneself, it’s always important to remember that knowledge is power. So if you care to, read up from objective sources such as the Centers for Disease Control on the Ebola virus. Prudently, and seeking to pre-empt the spread of this dangerous virus, according to the CDC, “Now is the time to prepare as it is possible that individuals with Ebola in West Africa may travel to the United States.”
In the October 16 article titled,” Ebola: Colorado health officials say state is prepared against virus,” Colorado Public Radio contributor John Daley reports,
“Health care workers who handle phone calls or front desk clinic check-ins will ask patients if they’ve traveled to places with on-going transmission in the last 21 days, had contact with someone who is ill with Ebola or handled the remains of patient who died from Ebola, or if they have any symptoms consistent with people who have the disease.
Duckro says Kaiser is hoping ‘we can interrupt any potential exposure prior to the patient being in the clinic, preferentially, and if not, then limiting any potential exposure to our patients and our healthcare staff.’
Kaiser will also train hundreds of nurses, who are involved in direct patient care, by the end of next week in the proper use and disposal of personal protective gear, including masks, goggles, gowns and gloves. By next Thursday, up to 600 nurses are to be trained.
Duckro [Amy Duckro, Kaiser Permanente infectious disease physician] says Kaiser Colorado, and other health providers, are learning from the handling of the first Ebola transmission cases in the U.S. in Dallas.”
This seems like a reasonable approach. Too bad Republican Governor Christie let politics and his own gender bias interfere with the compassion and civil rights Hickox should have been afforded and then yesterday, during mid-term election season, made the poor decision to make a televised speech about it all.