I think that the approach that is being taken by the federal government— the concept of “It’s a matter of time before we see another case”— reveals a poor strategy. Yesterday, New York City had its first case of an Ebola-infected patient. Identified as Dr. Craig Spencer, he is an emergency room physician who everybody knew had recently returned from West Africa, where he was treating Ebola victims with the non-profit, Doctors Without Borders.
Luckily enough, this health care professional, when he became flagrantly ill, immediately called emergency services and thankfully was descriptive enough to allow medics to come prepared for full isolation.
Now, here’s where it all breaks down for me: I give him an A for effort, but I give him a failing grade for his full execution once he got back to the United States from West Africa.
He, of all people, should have known that a proper quarantine means daily monitoring of temperatures, monitoring of any flu-like symptoms and no contact with anybody else. That’s what quarantine means.
And we have seen, over and over again, not only from non-medical professionals, but sadly by health care workers, that this breach of protocol continues to happen. This doctor went about the city of New York for several days riding the subways, going to dinner and even bowling, just to fall significantly ill only 12 hours after his latest outing.
So, what’s the bottom line here? Let me repeat: If you’re not going to close the borders and put a travel ban or a visa ban in place, at least create a very comprehensive quarantine protocol and monitor it— because this honor system that has been in place, just by telling people “monitor yourselves,” is certainly not working.
I am not worried that hundreds of people are going to get infected by this one doctor in New York. That’s not what I’m saying. But every time a case of Ebola pops up in any major city, it creates chaos, anxiety and certainly an exuberant amount of costs that— let’s face it— we cannot continue to afford on a daily basis.
I wish this doctor a speedy recovery, and I would love to hear his side of the story once he gets out of the hospital.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.