NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 26 (UPI) -- An American nurse quarantined in New Jersey after working with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone said she felt like she was treated like a criminal upon return to the United States.
In a first-person account she submitted to the Dallas Morning News, Kaci Hickox recounted the hours she spent at Newark Liberty International Airport as officials questioned her, took her temperature and ultimately decided to send her to quarantine at University Hospital in Newark.
Hickox arrived in New Jersey around 1 p.m. Friday after working with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone. At the airport, she was taken to a quarantine office.
"One after another, people asked me questions," she wrote. "Some introduced themselves, some didn't. One man who must have been an immigration officer because he was wearing a weapon belt that I could see protruding from his white coveralls barked questions at me as if I was a criminal."
After sitting at the airport for some six hours, she was taken to University Hospital to be monitored.
"Eight police cars escorted me to the University Hospital in Newark. Sirens blared, lights flashed. Again, I wondered what I had done wrong," Hickox said. "I sat alone in the isolation tent and thought of many colleagues who will return home to America and face the same ordeal. Will they be made to feel like criminals and prisoners?"
"The epidemic continues to ravage West Africa," she added. "Recently, the World Health Organization announced that as many as 15,000 people have died from Ebola. We need more health care workers to help fight the epidemic in West Africa. The U.S. must treat returning health care workers with dignity and humanity."
Hickox was the first health care worker to be quarantined under new a new policy put in place by the governors of New Jersey and New York. Any airline passengers who have had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa will be placed in quarantine for 21 days. This measure is taken regardless of if the traveler appears healthy.
At University Hospital, Hickox said her blood test came back negative for the Ebola virus.
The new policy came on the heels of a positive Ebola diagnosis of a Doctors Without Borders physician -- Dr. Craig Spencer -- who tested positive for Ebola Thursday.