A nurse who was forcibly quarantined at a hospital isolation unit in New Jersey after testing negative for Ebola has been released.
Nurse Kaci Hickox was discharged from University Hospital in Newark around 1:20 p.m. Monday, after being quarantined for four days, a hospital representative said.
Hickox, 33, was whisked away in one of two black sport-utility vehicles, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported. There was no police escort.
The New Jersey Department of Health said in a statement that Hickox was being released after being “symptom free for the last 24 hours.”
“As a result, and after being evaluated in coordination with the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the treating clinicians at University Hospital, the patient is being discharged,” the Health Department said.
Health officials said she had been monitored in isolation at University Hospital since testing negative for Ebola early Saturday morning.
Hickox was ordered into quarantine Friday, after she flew into Newark Liberty International Airport. She had been treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone
Since Hickox “had direct exposure to individuals suffering from the Ebola virus in one of the three West African nations,” health officials said she was “subject to a mandatory New Jersey quarantine order.”
Hickox was to be transported to Maine via ground transportation, and not mass transit or a commercial airline, CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
“Health officials in Maine have been notified of her arrangements and will make a determination under their own laws on her treatment when she arrives,” the statement said.
Maine’s protocols require Hickox to be quarantined in her home for 21 days after the last possible exposure to the disease.
Hickox, the first person forced into a mandatory quarantine program in New Jersey, complained about her treatment and was talking about suing to protect the rights of other health care workers.
“I think this is an extreme that is really unacceptable, and I feel like my basic human rights have been violated,” Hickox said from a tent at University Hospital on Monday.
Hickox called her hospital conditions deplorable – with only basic facilities and accommodations.
“There’s a hospital bed. They’re bringing me food,” Hickox said in a telephone interview with CNN on Sunday. “I have a porta-potty-type restroom. No shower facilities.”
She slammed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for the decision.
“If he knew anything about Ebola, he would know that asymptomatic people are not infectious,” she said.
Hickox’s attorney, Norman Siegel, was forced to speak with her through a plastic window outside of the tent. They plan to file a federal lawsuit, charging that the Ebola policies put in place by New York and New Jersey are violating people’s civil liberties.
“It’s almost like treating people who are doing the right thing, who go to West Africa and come back here, and are treated like criminals,” Siegel said.
Siegel said he will push on with support from the Obama Administration to try to get the New York-New Jersey quarantine policy enacted last week reversed, at the very least, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.
Hickox also said she had no symptoms at all and tested negative for Ebola in a preliminary evaluation.
She did come down with a fever hours after being quarantined. She said the elevated temperature was only detected on a forehead scanner because she was flustered after being held for hours with little information, food and water.
New Jersey Health Department officials said Hickox had access to a computer, her cellphone, magazines and newspapers and had been allowed to have takeout food.
The American Civil Liberties Union also warned against overly coercive measures.
“Medical workers have put their lives at risk treating Ebola patients. They should be rewarded with compassion and not treated like criminals,” the ACLU of New Jersey said in a statement. “Mandatory quarantine of people exhibiting no Ebola symptoms and when not medically necessary is overbroad and raises serious constitutional concerns.”
But as CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, Christie maintained that the right decision was made, regardless of the fact that Hickox turned out not to have Ebola.
“No matter what you do, there’s going to be critics, and you don’t worry about that,” Christie said. “You worry about doing what’s right for the people you represent.”
Speaking at a campaign event for Florida Gov. Rick Scott in Wellington, Florida, on Monday morning, Christie also said “when she has time to reflect, she’ll understand” the quarantine and that he is happy to send her home.
“She was obviously ill enough that the CDC and medical officials hospitalized her and gave her Ebola tests,” Christie said. “They don’t do that just for fun.”
Christie and Cuomo jointly announced the quarantine policy on Friday. They are stricter than those advised by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Read more at CBS NEW YORK.