EbolaKaci Hickox

Stop calling me ‘the Ebola nurse’

17 Nov, 2014

In an op-ed in The Guardian, Hickox says:

I never had Ebola. I never had symptoms of Ebola. I tested negative for Ebola the first night I stayed in New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s private prison in Newark. I am now past the incubation period – meaning that I will not develop symptoms of Ebola. I never had Ebola, so please stop calling me “the Ebola Nurse” – now!

Like many aid workers, I went to West Africa to respond to the Ebola outbreak because it was the most essential struggle about which I knew I could do something. I spent four of the most difficult weeks of my life fighting against a disease that destroys people of all ages and physical strengths. I witnessed men, women and children – who days earlier were strong and full of life – struggle to hold a glass of water to their lips. I worked in an Ebola case management center where our beds were constantly filled and so many others suffering from Ebola in West Africa needed help, but the capacity was lacking; we need many more people to go and help.

Like me, most workers who return from helping to care for Ebola patients will thankfully never develop symptoms of Ebola, and US policy needs to reflect that truth rather than stoke fears that someone could get sick.

Nobody should’ve had to watch me ride my bicycle out in the open as politicians fed the public false fears and misinformation. I want to live in an America that reaches out to aid workers as they return from West Africa and says, “We loved and stood by you when you were fighting this disease. We will love and stand by you now.”

We can define compassion, instead of being ruled by fear and fear-mongers.

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