Imposing mandatory quarantine on Ebola health care workers has unintended side-effect, PR expert says

In effort to protect the public, 'these states are treating health care workers like pariahs' says crisis management expert PR expert: States reinforced the old adage: 'No good deed goes unpunished'
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(PR NewsChannel) / October 26, 2014 / TAMPA, Fla. 
Some states imposing manadatory quarantine on health care workers returning from Africa are having an unitended side-effect, a crisis management PR expert says.

Some states imposing manadatory quarantine on health care workers returning from Africa are having an unitended side-effect, a crisis management PR expert says.

A move by three states to impose stringent restrictions on health care workers who return from volunteering in Africa to prevent the spread of Ebola in the U.S. may have produced an unintended side-effect.

Some believe health care workers have been villainized.

“These states are turning health care workers into pariahs and they’re risking their lives and volunteering their time,” says Glenn Selig, a public relations executive with The Publicity Agency, which specializes in crisis management PR. “These states may be well-intentioned by trying to protect the pubic. But what they did and how they did simply villainizes the good guys.”

Thirty-three-year-old Craig Spencer, M.D. contracted Ebola in Africa while volunteering there. Upon his return to New York City, he rode the subway and went bowling. Within days of self-monitoring, he was hospitalized at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City after he contacted authorities to say he had developed a fever.

Friday, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Illinois impose a mandatory 21-day quarantine for medical workers returning from those countries hardest hit hardest by Ebola.

Kaci Hickox was among the first health care workers to return since the more restrictive measures were imposed.

When Hickox arrived back in New Jersey after volunteering in Africa treating victims of Ebola, she says she was “made to feel like a criminial.”

“This is not a situation I would wish on anyone, and I am scared for those who will follow me,” Hickox wrote in a first-person account published in the Dallas Morning News.

“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?”

Hickox wrote the article while in quaranteen at a New Jersey hospital, where she remains.

On Saturday, the head of the CDC said that restrictions imposed by states could amount to something beyond than just a PR problem: it may make the Ebola crisis worse.

“Though we might wish we can seal ourselves off from the world, there are Americans who have the right of return and many other people that have the right to enter this country,” Dr. Thomas Frieden said at a news conference. “We’re not going to be able to get to zero risk no matter what we do unless we control the outbreak in West Africa.”

Ebola has killed over 3,000 people in five countries.

Selig, from The Publicity Agency, says he understands that states want to protect the public, but he says they went wrong in how they went about delivering that message.

“The work these volunteers do is unrelenting. It’s tough stuff. Maybe these states could have thanked them for what they are doing, and arranged for them to take some paid time off from their jobs so they can monitor their own health and recover from the experience. The messaging should have been about how a mandatory quaranteen can be in the health care worker’s best interest instead of it looking like states are punishing them for having risked their own lives to help.”

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SOURCE:  The Publicity Agency

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