It is disturbing to know that a nurse who had done volunteer work to care for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone was treated shabbily by New Jersey State government officials. The nurse said, in her interview with a CNN newscaster conducted on Oct. 26, that she was treated like a criminal and quarantined in a tent with a port-a-potty-like lavatory without a shower. She sounded very much distressed though she tried to stay calm. I felt very sorry for her. I was even further disturbed when I read online many people’s negative and often cruel comments on her distress – particularly because I was expecting that many people were as outraged as I was about the way the nurse was treated. I think she should be treated as a hero not a criminal. She should be respected not shunned for her work in West Africa.
It is true that I did not realize the extent of hysterical fear that a lot of people are feeling until the governors of New Jersey, New York, and Illinois ordered the forced quarantine of returning healthcare workers from the affected areas and until I read many people’s shockingly negative reactions to the quarantine nurse. Many people are truly in panic. It is easy to dismiss their fear as irrational and ignorant, but such a dismissal will never solve the problem. It is, indeed, important to acknowledge their feelings as real when dealing with reality. If the state government officials accept their fear as real (which is obvious from their forced quarantine orders) while respecting the human rights of the volunteer healthcare workers (which is essential in a civilized society) the states should prepare more comfortable quarantine quarters for the returning healthcare workers so that the returning healthcare workers can spend 21 days in a relative comfort. It is not acceptable to keep them in a prison-like tent. The states should rent an entire hotel, apartment building, or mobile homes where they can keep the quarantined healthcare volunteer workers.