Saturday, October 25, 2014

Waaaaaaaaahmbulance Alert!

I am a nurse who has just returned to the U.S. after working with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone - an Ebola-affected country. I have been quarantined in New Jersey. This is not a situation I would wish on anyone, and I am scared for those who will follow me.
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.
I arrived at the Newark Liberty International Airport around 1 p.m. on Friday, after a grueling two-day journey from Sierra Leone. I walked up to the immigration official at the airport and was greeted with a big smile and a “hello.”
I told him that I have traveled from Sierra Leone and he replied, a little less enthusiastically: “No problem. They are probably going to ask you a few questions.”
He put on gloves and a mask and called someone. Then he escorted me to the quarantine office a few yards away. I was told to sit down. Everyone that came out of the offices was hurrying from room to room in white protective coveralls, gloves, masks, and a disposable face shield.
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.
I called my family to let them know that I was OK. I was hungry and thirsty and asked for something to eat and drink. I was given a granola bar and some water. I wondered what I had done wrong.
Four hours after I landed at the airport, an official approached me with a forehead scanner. My cheeks were flushed, I was upset at being held with no explanation. The scanner recorded my temperature as 101.
The female officer looked smug. “You have a fever now,” she said.
I explained that an oral thermometer would be more accurate and that the forehead scanner was recording an elevated temperature because I was flushed and upset.
I was left alone in the room for another three hours. At around 7 p.m., I was told that I must go to a local hospital. I asked for the name and address of the facility. I realized that information was only shared with me if I asked.
Eight police cars escorted me to the University Hospital in Newark. Sirens blared, lights flashed. Again, I wondered what I had done wrong.
I had spent a month watching children die, alone. I had witnessed human tragedy unfold before my eyes. I had tried to help when much of the world has looked on and done nothing.
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.
I sat alone in the isolation tent and thought of many colleagues who will return home to America and face the same ordeal. Will they be made to feel like criminals and prisoners?

Awwwwwwww, does Pwecious Special Snowflake need a hanky to cry in?
Let's try this again, after we turn up the "Brigthtness" dial:

I am a nurse who has just returned to the U.S. after working with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone - an Ebola-affected country. I have been exposed to Ebola in the past 48 hours, and out of a rational fear that, just like my colleague, Dr. Spencer, I might also display symptoms of this deadly disease, and expose friends, family, and hundreds of strangers to this deadly disease, I have been quarantined in New Jersey. As a grown up, I think this was an entirely rational response, to prevent exposing or infecting my fellow airline passengers and the cabin crews on multiple flights, plus various officials, clerks, taxi drivers, bus passengers, hotel clerk, waiters and waitresses, cashiers, plus their families, children, and by extension the rest of Newark, and the state of New Jersey. This is not a situation I would wish on anyone, but I realize it's not all about MeMeMe, and my feelings don't trump the safety of countless others. I'm sure my fellow health care professionals will also understand the need for this common sense response, and deal with it as a minor inconvenience compared to what would happen if I had been infected, let alone if I were to spread the disease to innocent strangers through negligence and reckless disregard for normal infection control processes, of the exact sort used for centuries.
I had to wait in complete isolation, and it's scary and lonely, but now I begin to have some tiny bit of empathy for how all the people I treated must have felt when I was on the other side of the hazmat gear. I didn't realize what a sight I must have presented every day to strangers in a faraway land dying from a deadly disease, but now, I have some tiny inkling of what they faced, and it will give me more empathy for my patients for the rest of my nursing career. Until now, I was pretty oblivious about what that feels like.Now though, I understand how important it is to introduce myself when I'm all covered up and anonymous. I also understand how it feels to be scared, hungry, and thirsty, and completely at the mercy of other people - exactly like my patients are. I get why my tone of voice, and some compassion, can make someone in a strange situation feel afraid, vulnerable, and helpless, in a way I never confronted personally before. 
And I see how one person's thoughtless actions can have consequences for hundreds to thousands of others when a deadly disease is the culprit, and the health and safety of thousands to millions of people is at stake, and it makes me feel very humble under such a weighty responsibility. I was thankful for being given food and water, and even for being isolated so that I wouldn't infect or expose any of those other people, all strangers, with whom I would have otherwise been sitting as I continued my journey home. The officials were so concerned about my health and the public's safety they dedicated an ambulance and eight police cars to getting me safely to a definitive medical screening. I'm sure those cops must have had better things to do in Newark than babysit me, but I never heard a peep of complaint from them; the ride was all business, fast, and I was completely safely conveyed to the hospital. It was quickly determined that I was not symptomatic, which was a huge relief.  
Now I only have to spend three additional weeks waiting it out before everyone I meet can be assured I'm no threat to the public's health. Or to my own family and friends, who mean the world to me. I didn't expect this additional hurdle when I left the US to help out overseas, but I'm a professional with extensive training and experience in controlling the disease in question, and it's so horrible I'd rather die myself than spread it to one other person. So the last thing I'm going to do is bitch, piss, and moan about my tiny little problems, instead of dealing with this additional hurdle, and then getting back to the people and work that I love. I am not the most important thing in the universe, and in case I forgot, I just got a huge wake-up call. So if this is the worst thing that happens to me after spending weeks working amongst the dying in third world squalor, I've got nothing to worry about. And I can't wait to get out of here and enjoy a feast with my friends and family. Compared to what I've seen, they really have no idea how blessed they are to be here, instead of over there. But I sure do, now.
You tell me: which one of those statements sounds like a dedicated professional, and which one sounds like a whiny four-year-old?

Get over yourself, Princess!
You have a Planetary Rotation Malfunction: the world does NOT, in fact, revolve around you. Got that?
So either change your attitude, or change your profession. You embarrass me, and you're seriously pissing me off!
It sounds like a three week time out for you is just what the doctor ordered.
Now get away from me until you can act like a goddam grown-up. Go!





Anonymous said...

Well done. Of course we'll never hear it from her.

I laugh when I hear the whining that a mandatory quarantine will dissuade volunteers from helping out in Africa. They are willing to risk a horrible death for a month or more, but are unwilling to face a 21 day paid vacation? Give me a break. I guess quarantine doesn't come with all the smug self satisfaction of saving the world.

If they can't deal with the quarantine as a VERY REAL reminder that THEY can get it too, not just the poor downtrodden, then they shouldn't go. Let them volunteer at an animal shelter instead.


A Texan said...

From a veterinarian to his local paper:

The present Ebola crisis in the world is frightening. I have submitted the following letter to the editor of the Lewiston Morning Tribune:

Editor, Lewiston Morning Tribune:

If I wish to import a horse into the United States from Liberia or any African country other than Morocco, the horse needs to undergo a 60 day quarantine period at a USDA approved quarantine facility prior to mingling with the general population of horses in this country. Africa has a disease called African Horse Sickness that does not exist in the US; this is the way we have kept it out of this country. African Horse Sickness does not cause disease in people, only horses; our government has determined that it would be devastating to the US horse industry if it were to come here.

The United States (and virtually all other countries) require a myriad of tests and often quarantine prior to bringing in a foreign animal.

I can’t legally cross state lines in the United States with a horse or cow without a health certificate signed by a USDA accredited veterinarian stating that the animal has been inspected and found free of infectious disease. In most cases blood tests are also required. In fact I can’t legally cross the Snake River and ride my horse in Idaho without a health certificate and a negative blood test for Equine Infectious Anemia.

I’m not complaining; the United States of America, the States of Idaho and Washington as well as the other 48 states take the health of our livestock very seriously, and we have a very good record at keeping foreign animal diseases out of our country. I am happy to do my part to maintain biosecurity in our animal population.

If I am a resident of Liberia incubating Ebola, to enter the United States all I need to do is present a valid visa, and lie when asked if I have been exposed to Ebola. Within hours (no quarantine required) I can be walking the streets of any city in the United States.

I feel very fortunate to live in a country that values our animals so highly.

Anonymous said...


Robin Datta said...

Animals are probably treated better in quarantine than humans. The emmeffing government assclowns are working for the government, not for the people.

idahobob said...

Instead of bitching and whining about the way she was treated, maybe, just maybe, it would be more beneficial if she would make some suggestions to change the procedure so as to better implement the protocol.

But I reckon not.

Maybe she should just call 1-800-WHAA.


Anonymous said...

Just goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished.

Grouch, MD said...

That article from the vet is spot on.

Anonymous said...

I am highly concerned nurse Kaci does not understand basic epidemiology.


GamegetterII said...

And the apologies from the land of rainbows and unicorns begin...

"New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: Nurse Kaci Hickox was treated with disrespect at Newark airport when returning from West Africa; 'we owe her better than that, and all people who do this work better than that' - live video"

"Senior Obama administration official on New York, New Jersey Ebola quarantine policy: 'We have concerns with the unintended consequences of policies not grounded in science'; 'We are working on new guidelines for returning healthcare workers that will protect the American people'"

"Report: White House pressures New York, New Jersey governors to reverse mandatory Ebola quarantine orders, official tells @nytimes"

Saved the best for last-she did call a waaaaambulance...

"Kaci Hickox, nurse held under New Jersey's mandatory Ebola quarantine, has hired civil rights attorney Norman Siegel to challenge her detention; 'The policy is overly broad as applied,' lawyer says"

What about the rest of the country's right to not have morons infect us with deadly diseases?

Anonymous said...

I don't read it as so much whinning as just frustration that people that are supposed to know what they should be doing don't have a frickin' idea how to handle the situation. Which of course will mean we're all screwed...


Percy said...

Grotesque that it takes so long to reach a conclusion that an incoming health worker from West Africa needs to be isolated and subjected to quarantine. I do not like vilifying this woman, who justly complains about how she was treated. It's tough to run into a surprise quarantine coming a long way home after doing a frightening job helping others. The least we could do is get it done quickly, sympathetically, and efficiently. That seems to be too much to ask of our people. Those who cannot bring these elements to bear on isolating possible Ebola people incoming should be canned on the spot. Are we as a people so stupid, so careless, that this cannot be done? What change in procedure is needed? Brains! Get people with brains doing this, not cast-offs who can't get a job elsewhere. Change it at once. Of course, they have to be identified and isolated immediately, but that's no excuse for being vile and slow in accomplishing it.

GamegetterII said...

Complaining about the way she was treated is understandable-to a point.
The morons in charge should have had a plan worked out before the first person coming from W. Africa showed up.

Claiming that placing her in isolation violated her civil rights is just utter bullshit-and makes her look like even more of a whiny,self-centered egotistical the world revolves around me little twit..

Percy said...

Gamegetter: No question. Idiotic and wrong re civil rights violation. I do not suggest we exclude nurses just because they, too, can be brain dead. Who else would expose themselves to this stuff? Sad and fearful conclusion, but, really, isn't this close to suicidal?

Ellen said...

Used to be, when tested for presence of antibodies in one's blood, its presence indicated that one's immune system successfully dealt with a challenge. NOW, the insanity is that such antibodies indicate infection.....WTF? Also, the supposed testing that's done (PCR) is highly unreliable; so that leaves us with what? Assumptions of supposed infection, like what was done with previous pretend "pandemics"......It's all smoke and mirrors, ONCE AGAIN, but we continue to swallow it all and allow ourselves to be led around by our extreme gullibility in the terror they are instigating.

Aesop said...

The preceding is wild speculation based on nothing but pure unsubstantiated and indefensible nuttery.

If you think you've found a forum for that, reconsider carefully.