Quarantined Nurse Kaci Hickox Calls Her Treatment 'Inhumane', Criticizes Chris Christie

10/26/2014 03:12 pm ET | Updated Oct 28, 2014

Kaci Hickox, the nurse currently under quarantine at University Hospital in Newark, NJ, harshly criticized her treatment during a phone call with CNN on Sunday.

"It's really inhumane," she told anchor Candy Crowley.

Hickox is the first person quarantined under a strict new policy enacted by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The 21-day quarantine order followed news that a New York doctor who had recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea tested positive for the disease. Hickox was quarantined on Friday after flying into Newark Liberty International Airport from Sierra Leone, where she had been working with Doctors Without Borders treating Ebola patients. She has been placed under isolation since then despite testing negative for Ebola.

"To quarantine everyone, in case, you know, when you cannot predict who may develop Ebola or not, and to make me stay for 21 days, to not be with my family, to put me through this emotional and physical stress, is completely unacceptable," Hickox told Crowley. She added, "I feel like my basic human rights have been violated."

She also sharply criticized Gov. Christie for what she described as a complete mischaracterization of her condition:

"I heard from my mother last night who called me concerned and said, Governor Christie just said in an interview that you were quote-unquote 'obviously ill'. And this is so frustrating to me. First of all, I don’t think he's a doctor. And secondly, he's never laid eyes on me. And thirdly, I have been asymptomatic since I've been here. I feel physically completely strong and emotionally completely exhausted. But for him to say I'm 'obviously ill', which is even a strange thing, that, what does that mean? Someone define that for me, because I think I don’t quite understand what 'obviously ill' means."

Despite criticisms, Christie defended the quarantine policy on Sunday, saying he has "no second thoughts about it."

Hickox slammed the new quarantine policy as "completely not understandable" nor based in science. "It is not based on any clear public health evidence," she explained. "It's not the recommendation of public health and medical experts at this point. You know, I think we have to be very careful about letting politicians make medical and public health decisions, and all of the evidence about Ebola shows that if you are not symptomatic, you are not infectious."

She described her current conditions as like a "prison", saying that she is being kept in a tent within a building outside the hospital. She has a hospital bed and "a port-a-potty type restroom." Hickox said that she has "no shower facilities" and "no connection with the outside world except my iPhone which I insisted that I brought with me when I arrived late Friday night."

CNN's Vaughn Sterling tweeted photos of Hickox's tent:

The New York Times reports that Hickox has hired a civil rights attorney to challenge her quarantine. The lawyer, Norman Siegel, says that Hickox plans to sue over her confinement, which he said raised "serious constitutional and civil liberties issues."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned on Sunday that aggressive quarantine policies like the ones in New Jersey and New York are not based on sound science and could ultimately threaten public health.

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, similarly expressed concerns. "All of us need to make clear what these health workers mean to us and how much we value their services, how much we value their contribution," she stated on NBC's "Meet The Press".

Also on HuffPost:

  • 1 Ebola is highly infectious and even being in the same room as someone with the disease can put you at risk
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Not as far as we know. Ebola isn't contagious until symptoms begin, and it spreads through direct contact with the bodily fluids of patients. It is not, from what we know of the science so far, an airborne virus. So contact with the patient's sweat, blood, vomit, feces or semen could cause infection, and the body remains infectious after death. Much of the spread in west Africa has been attributed to the initial distrust of medical staff, leaving many to be treated at home by loved ones, poorly equipped medics catching the disease from patients, and the traditional burial rites involving manually washing of the dead body. From what we know already, you can't catch it from the air, you can't catch it from food, you can't catch it from water.
  • 2 You need to be worried if someone is sneezing or coughing hard
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Apart from the fact that sneezing and coughing aren't generally thought to be symptoms of Ebola, the disease is not airborne, so unless someone coughed their phlegm directly into your mouth, you wouldn't catch the disease. Though medical staff will take every precaution to avoid coming into contact with the body of an infected person at all costs, with stringent hygiene there should be a way to contain the virus if it reaches the UK.
  • 3 Cancelling all flights from west Africa would stop the spread of Ebola
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • This actually has pretty serious implications. British Airways suspended its four-times-weekly flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone until the end of March, the only direct flight to the region from the UK. In practice, anyone can just change planes somewhere else and get to Britain from Europe, north Africa, or the Middle East. And aid agencies say that flight cancellations are hampering efforts to get the disease under control, they rely on commercial flights to get to the infected regions. Liberia's information minister, Lewis Brown, told the Telegraph this week that BA was putting more people in danger. "We need as many airlines coming in to this region as possible, because the cost of bringing in supplies and aid workers is becoming prohibitive," he told the Telegraph. "There just aren't enough seats on the planes. I can understand BA's initial reaction back in August, but they must remember this is a global fight now, not just a west African one, and we can't just be shut out." Christopher Stokes, director of MSF in Brussels, agreed: “Airlines have shut down many flights and the unintended consequence has been to slow and hamper the relief effort, paradoxically increasing the risk of this epidemic spreading across countries in west Africa first, then potentially elsewhere. We have to stop Ebola at source and this means we have to be able to go there.”
  • 4 Temperature screening at airports is an effective way to stop those who have the disease from travelling
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • The screening process is pretty porous, especially when individuals want to subvert it. Wake up on the morning of your flight, feel a bit hot, and you definitely don't want to be sent to an isolation booth for days and have to miss your flight. Take an ibuprofen and you can lower your temperature enough to get past the scanners. And if you suspect you have Ebola, you might be desperate to leave, seeing how much better the treatment success has been in western nations. And experts have warned that you cannot expect people to be honest about who they have had contact with. Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola victim who died in Texas, told officials he had not been in contact with anyone with the disease, but had in fact visited someone in the late stages of the virus, though he said he believed it was malaria. The extra screening that the US implemented since his death probably wouldn't have singled out Duncan when he arrived from hard-hit Liberia last month, because he had no symptoms while travelling.
  • 5 Border staff should stop people coming in to the country who are at risk
    LEON NEAL via Getty Images
  • They're not doctors, and it's a monumental task to train 23,500 people who work for the UK Border Agency how to correctly diagnose a complex disease, and spot it in the millions of people who come through British transport hubs. Public Health England has provided UK Border Force with advice on the assessment of an unwell patient on entry to UK, but they can't be expected to check everyone.
  • 6 Screening at British airports should be implemented to stop unwell people coming in from affected areas
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • As mentioned before, the UK, especially London, is a major transport hub. Unlike the US, most of those coming from west Africa will have crossed through Europe, so infected people could be coming from practically anywhere, not just flights directly from those countries. This would require the UK to screen every returning traveller, as people could return to the UK from an affected country through any port of entry. This would be huge numbers of low risk people, at vast, vast expense.
  • 7 Ebola doesn't have a cure
    John Moore via Getty Images
  • There are several cures currently being tested for Ebola. They include the ZMapp vaccine which was administered to British sufferer William Pooley and two other Americans who caught the disease in west Africa and they all recovered. Supplies of the drug have now run dry, and it has not been through clinical trials to prove its effectiveness. Mapp Biopharmaceutical, the company that makes ZMapp, says the drug's supplies are exhausted and that it takes months to make even a small batch. But an Ebola cure is very much on the horizon, and would have come sooner had it been seen as any kind of priority for drug companies before it started reaching the western world.
  • 8 Ebola is a death sentence
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • It is true that certain strains of Ebola have had a death rate of 90%. However, with this particular epidemic the stats are more positive, a death rate of around 60%. Those who have decent, strong immune systems, are able to access intravenous fluids and scrupulous health care are far more likely to survive, which is why the survival rate of westerners who contract the disease is far better. Experts have suggested that, rather than waste money on pointless airport screenings, funds could be used to improve infrastructure in the affected nations to help halt the spread of the disease at source.
  • 9 Ebola turns you into a zombie
    Renee Keith via Getty Images
  • Just, no.

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