In stark contrast to the actions and statements of some East Coast governors in responding to healthcare workers returning from Ebola-stricken countries, Gov. Rick Perry acted compassionately and rationally on news of a nurse coming home to Austin from Sierra Leone.
Another nurse, Kaci Hickox, who also had treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, was subjected to a mandatory quarantine upon arrival in New Jersey under a policy instituted by that state’s governor.
A defiant Hickox, a graduate of Rio Vista High School and the University of Texas at Arlington, was later released and allowed to return to her home in Maine. But there she was threatened with arrest when she announced that she would end her voluntary quarantine.
Her situation has become a media and political circus in which the final outcome likely will be determined in court.
In Austin Thursday, an unidentified nurse who, like Hickox, treated Ebola patients but has shown no signs of the disease, quietly returned and agreed to self-quarantine at her home, perhaps because of the humane way she was treated by state officials.
She was met at the airport by the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. Afterward, Perry spoke to her by phone and thanked her for her heroic work in fighting Ebola, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
The nurse, at Perry’s request, agreed to remain at home during the 21-day incubation period for Ebola.
She will be monitored twice daily by the state health department.
“This healthcare hero has made a great sacrifice in traveling abroad to minister to those who are suffering,” Perry said in a statement. “Even now home in Texas, she continues to demonstrate her selflessness by agreeing to quarantine herself and further protect her fellow Texans.”
Perry’s office noted that while the nurse’s self-imposed quarantine protects others, it also was an action that shouldn’t deter other health workers from going to assist victims in West Africa, something that was feared if workers are forcibly detained for quarantine upon their return to this country.
The governor demonstrated true leadership in this case, something some of his counterparts should model.