October 27, 2014

Nurse Who Got Quarantined In NJ Suing The State?

Kaci Hickox Quarantined New Jersey Nurse

A brave nurse who treated virus patients in West Africa remains in a 15-by-20 foot plastic tent — and guarded by police — as part of the mandatory quarantine instituted on Friday. And now she’s threatening to sue.

“I feel like my basic human rights have been violated,” Kaci Hickox, 33, said in a phone interview Sunday from her isolation tent at University Hospital in Newark.

“To put me through this emotional and physical stress is completely unacceptable,” she added in the interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Hickox’s call for freedom was echoed by her boyfriend and the new high-powered civil rights lawyer she’s hired to get her sprung and allowed to return to her Maine home.

“If you ... care about civil liberties ... help me liberate Kaci Hickox from Chris Christie’s private prison,” her boyfriend, Theodore Wilbur, 39, wrote on Facebook Saturday.

He told the Daily News Sunday, “You can’t have a policy based on fear. It’s got to be based on medical fact.”

The uproar over the mandatory quarantine comes as it was revealed that Obama administration officials have contacted Gov. Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Christie to express “concerns” over their plan.

“We have concerns with the unintended consequences of policies not grounded in science may have on efforts to combat Ebola at its source in West Africa,” a senior administration official told The News.

De Blasio also questioned the policy Sunday, but stopped short of criticizing Cuomo and Christie.

“We respect the right of each government to make decisions that they think are right for their people but we have to think how we treat people who are doing this noble work ... we owe (Nurse Hickox) better than that and all the people that do this work,” de Blasio said earlier in the day, before appearing with Cuomo at a press conference Sunday night.

Hickox was involuntarily placed in isolation after returning from battling the killer virus on the front lines in Sierra Leone. Her tent is sparse, with an uncomfortable hospital bed, poor lighting and a non-flush toilet.

“ ‘Comfort’ is not a word I would use. There is no TV. ... She’s given food via the plastic windows,” said her lawyer, Norman Siegel, who announced plans for a federal suit on behalf of “an impressive American (who) simply wants to be released.”

“We believe that medically speaking there is no reason for the state of New Jersey to keep her,” added Siegel.

But Christie doubled down on the move.

“The government’s job is to protect the safety and health of our citizens,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I have no second thoughts about it...I think the CDC will come around on our point of view on this.”

Hickox slammed the new policy as “a knee-jerk reaction” by politicians that will only discourage medical professionals from going to West Africa to fight Ebola.

“First of all, I don’t think he (Christie) is a doctor, and second of all, he’s never laid eyes on me,” she fumed.

Cuomo said Sunday night that he was not getting pressure from the White House and added the official Centers for Disease Control policy is no different than the one he and Christie announced Friday.

But on Sunday night, Cuomo provided new details for how New York’s version of the mandatory quarantine will work.

Under Cuomo’s policy, health-care workers and civilians returning from Ebola hot zones will be quarantined, but will be allowed visitors. Their quarantine will be at home if they live in New York and in a “facility” if they do not.

They will receive state paychecks if their organization declines to pay them during the three weeks out of work.

Those in quarantine will receive two unannounced visits per day from medical teams to check on whether they are showing symptoms, such as a fever or vomiting.

“I don’t anticipate a lack of cooperation,” said Cuomo. “If there was a lack of cooperation, obviously we would have the legal right to enforce it.” He did not elaborate.

In a series of tweets on Sunday night, Christie said New Jersey always planned to allow state residents to quarantine at home.

Cuomo’s discussion of New York’s approach to mandatory isolation came after a top national health official blasted the policy, saying it had no scientific basis.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said the policy would only stop doctors from bringing much-needed aid to the stricken-countries.

“The best way to protect us is to stop the epidemic in Africa, and we need those health-care workers,” Fauci said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The local medical crisis erupted Thursday when Dr. Craig Spencer, who returned to the city on Oct. 17 from working with Ebola patients in Guinea, tested positive for the virus.