Editorial: Forget everything you learned in nursing school

For millennia, Homo Sapiens have sought to learn from past issues, thereby increasing intelligent reactions. Similarly, humans have learned to push boundaries and increase the range of possibilities. But for some, the boundary pushing has become the sole focus, leaving intelligence in the dust.

Anyone following the growing Ebola crisis is bound to recognize the genuine seriousness of the issue. Having taken the lives of more than 5,000 between the three West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Ebola (sometimes referenced as Hemorrhagic Fever) is a rare and deadly disease that targets its victim’s blood platelets, causing high rates of blood loss. Without intense professional treatment, surviving the disease is slim. On the bright side, however, the disease is difficult to contract as it spreads only through bodily fluids.

But even with a low contraction rate, the severity of the disease is no less present, and no one should underestimate it. Unless, that is, you are a nurse, at which point you can simply throw caution into the wind, right? Well, according to Kaci Hickox — the Maine nurse who fought against quarantine routines after returning from West Africa — she should have the freedom to go anywhere she wants, even while being monitored for the disease.

Why is this a big deal? Scientists and researchers have found that nearly all individuals who have fallen victim to Ebola have begun showing symptoms within a 21-day period. After that time period, if no symptoms were shown, they were proven clear and healthy. Because it is not yet known whether or not Ebola can spread before its victims become symptomatic, healthcare officials have established a 21-day quarantine for anyone who has been exposed to the virus.

But Hickox decided to push the boundaries. Whether out of selfishness or the fear of boredom, Hickox claimed that the government’s quarantine was not based on fact but on fear, and the government was violating her rights by forcing her to remain in isolation. Hickox then turned a blind eye to her medical training and went on a rampage with her nose high in the air, creating a media bubble and even publicly ignoring the quarantine by going on a bike ride through town.

Perhaps there was a slight infringement on Hickox’s rights when she was ordered into quarantine, but that was all out of concern for the public’s safety. One would think that being a nurse, Hickox would understand the potential seriousness of the situation, although she has shown the world otherwise.

Furthermore, it is important to recognize that the “quarantine” Hickox was initially placed under — prior to her rebellion, of course — was complete with three to five square meals a day and nurses to check in on her around the clock. For some reason, that does not sound so bad.