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End of Ebola monitoring is a 'step forward' for nurse Kaci Hickox

The controversial Ebola monitoring period of Kaci Hickox, a Maine nurse exposed to the disease while treating sick patients in West Africa and who initially resisted quarantine upon her return to the United States, comes to an end on Monday after several weeks of court battles and public standoffs with politicians.

As the 21-day time span during which people are thought to be at risk of developing the disease concludes at midnight for Hickox, the 33-year-old nurse is trying to regain a sense of normalcy, said her attorney Steven Hyman. 

"She's glad to get through this ordeal," Hyman, a New York-based attorney, said Monday. "This is a step forward."

Hickox was exposed to the disease that has killed thousands in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone while volunteering in West Africa for Doctors Without Borders. Just before her return to the U.S., a doctor who had been treating Ebola patients in West Africa came down with the disease in New York City, prompting the governors of New York and New Jersey to implement a mandatory quarantine policy for returning medical workers.

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Hickox's return flight arrived in Newark, N.J., on Oct. 24 and she was placed in quarantine inside a tent at a hospital. The move spawned a back-and-forth public dispute, with Hickox criticizing the governor and hiring a legal team to fight the quarantine policy, saying she had no symptoms and the quarantine was a violation of her civil rights. 

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Eventually she was released from the hospital tent and was able to return to her home in Fort Kent, Maine, where she was actively monitored for symptoms of the disease. State officials had requested that Hickox be barred from public areas, but a district court judge turned down that request.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Hickox said she and her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, plan to leave the small town on the state's northern tip.

"She'll look to enjoy friends and begin to look for a job. I'm sure she'll continue to do great work and she's indicated she'll continue to speak out against some of these quarantines she feels are more political than medical," Hyman said.

Concerns over the spread of Ebola have increased in recent months after a man traveled from Liberia to Dallas and became ill with Ebola. Before his death he infected two nurses who were treated successfully for the disease.

Follow @kurtisalee and email kurtis.lee@latimes.com

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