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Quarantined Nurse Who Treated Ebola Patients in West Africa Pens Scathing Account of Airport Ordeal: 'No One Seemed to Be in Charge


"No one would tell me what was going on or what would happen to me."

Kaci Hickox (Image source: Dallas Morning News)

Kaci Hickox — the nurse who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and is in quarantine at University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey — has written a scathing account of her treatment by officials after arriving at Newark Liberty Airport on Friday.

Kaci Hickox (Image source: Dallas Morning News) Kaci Hickox (Image source: Dallas Morning News)

Hickox opened her essay for the Dallas Morning News saying she's "scared" for health care workers who will follow her.

She said 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."

More from Hickox's account:

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.

Hickox said she noted an oral thermometer would be more accurate because the forehead scanner was reading a temperature affected by her flushed and upset state — but soon she was sent to the hospital.

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.”

Hickox added that a forehead scanner reading was again taken and it came back with 101 degrees. “There’s no way you have a fever,” she said the doctor told her. “Your face is just flushed.” Then her blood was taken for an Ebola test and came back negative.

Now in quarantine she wrote wondering, "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?"

Read the entire Dallas Morning News essay here.

This story has been updated.

(H/T: Dallas Morning News)

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