A group of nurses who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient with Ebola in the U.S., sat down with Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes to discuss what it was like to treat an Ebola victim.
Duncan was admitted to Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas with symptoms of Ebola and it was confirmed shortly thereafter that he did indeed have the virus, which he had acquired while in Liberia.
All of the nurses in the video with Pelley work for the hospital and share their stories of caring for Duncan, who later died of the virus. The nurses also discuss the evolution of protocol for caring for an Ebola patient during the treatment. Though care began with face shields and masks, later nurses were required to cover all exposed skin when caring for a victim.
See the entire emotional video here.
Two nurses who cared for Duncan, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, became ill with the disease after Duncan’s death. Pham was transferred to the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Vinson was treated at Emory University in Atlanta. Both nurses who contracted Ebola in the U.S. are free of the disease and have been released from their respective hospitals. Pham was discharged from the hospital last Friday and Vinson left on Tuesday, according to CNN. Vinson said that her release was a cause for “celebration and gratitude,” but asked for continued focus on fighting the disease in Africa.
There is now only one case of Ebola in the U.S. Following the recovery of Vinson and Pham, the one remaining Ebola case currently in America is Dr. Craig Spencer, who recently returned from Guinea, where he was working with Doctors Without Borders. He was admitted to Bellevue Hospital in New York City six days after his return.
There was some alarm after it was revealed Spencer rode the New York City subway and went bowling during the time between returning from Guinea and exhibiting symptoms. Initially Spencer told authorities he had quarantined himself after his return, only later revealing his other activities, according to CNBC.
To avoid further spread of the disease, some travelers from West Africa are now being quarantined upon arrival in the U.S., even if they show no symptoms of the disease. And some are not taking kindly to this new mandate.
One nurse, Kaci Hickox, is vocally and publicly battling an enforced quarantine. She was placed in a 21-day quarantine in a New Jersey hospital after returning from Sierra Leone, where she treated Ebola patients as part of her work with Doctors Without Borders. She has tested negative for the disease since her arrival and hired a lawyer to file a federal lawsuit against the mandatory quarantine.
The New Jersey Department of Health released a statement on October 27 saying she would be released after being “symptom-free for the last 24 hours.” The decision was made in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control.
Hickox was transported to her hometown of Fort Kent, Maine, in a private car, where she faced a new challenge as the Maine health commissioner, Mary Mayhew, fights to have her quarantined to her home, according to CNN.
“[This is] a reasonable request to ensure—out of an abundance of caution—that we are protecting the people of this state,” Mayhew said.
However, Hickox said on the TODAY show that she did not plan to abide by the quarantine. “I don’t plan on sticking to the guidelines. I remain appalled by these home quarantine policies that have been forced upon me.” And indeed, on Thursday morning, Hickox left her home and went on an hour-long bike ride with her boyfriend. According to NBC, Hickox stated, “I hope that we can continue negotiations and work this out amicably. There is no legal action against me, so I’m free to go on a bike ride in my hometown.” This was actually the second time she broke her quarantine; the first, on Wednesday night, was to speak with reporters outside her home.
Nurses, what do you think about an enforced quarantine? Do you agree with Hickox that such a quarantine is “unconstitutional”? Or do you think a mandatory quarantine is necessary for infection control? Sound off in the comments below.