TODAY'S PAPER
Good Morning
Good Morning
NewsHealth

Dr. Craig Spencer, clear of Ebola virus, released from Bellevue Hospital Center to cheers

Dr. Craig Spencer reaches for Dr. Laura Evans,

Dr. Craig Spencer reaches for Dr. Laura Evans, his chief caregiver, on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, during a news conference at Bellevue Hospital Center as he was released from the facility after being treated for an Ebola virus infection. Credit: Craig Ruttle

A Manhattan doctor who underwent 19 days of Ebola treatment was declared free of the deadly virus and discharged Tuesday from Bellevue Hospital Center to hugs, handshakes and cheers.

Dr. Craig Spencer, New York City's only confirmed Ebola patient and a Doctors Without Borders volunteer who spent five weeks in Guinea, called himself a "living example" of how protocols to detect and contain infection among health care workers returning from West Africa can be effective.

"Today, I am healthy and no longer infectious," he said at the Manhattan hospital during a news conference that was attended by his parents and more than two dozen nurses, doctors and support staff.

Hours later, the city Health Department lifted a quarantine order on Spencer's fiancee, Morgan Dixon, at the couple's West Harlem apartment.

Dixon will be monitored by health officials until Friday. She has shown no symptoms of Ebola, officials said.

At the news conference, Spencer sought to divert the attention on him toward Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia -- the three nations at the epicenter of the Ebola epidemic.

Spencer reflected on his time in Guinea, a West African country bordering Liberia and Sierra Leone, saying he cried as he held "children not strong enough to survive the virus."

A note to our community:

As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.

SUBSCRIBE

Cancel anytime

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has encouraged health care workers to fight Ebola abroad and defended those stigmatized upon their return, pulled Spencer into a hearty hug.

Spencer also hugged several doctors and nurses who treated him, and he embraced the city's first lady, Chirlane McCray.

"It's a very, very good day," de Blasio said. "Dr. Spencer is Ebola-free and New York City is Ebola-free."

The city currently has 289 New Yorkers under "active monitoring," with health workers checking in on them regularly. Most returned recently from West Africa. None has Ebola symptoms.

About 100 people, including the emergency medical services team that rushed Spencer to Bellevue on Oct. 23 with a fever, aided in his recovery, said city Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.

City health workers fanned out in the blocks near Spencer's apartment Tuesday passing out fliers that stated, "Ebola: Am I at Risk?" and a letter from Bassett saying Spencer can come and go as he pleases.

Ryan McVerry, 24, a website programmer who lives in Spencer's building, called the doctor a hero for going to Africa to treat Ebola patients.

"The best thing I could do is go to my building as if nothing is wrong," he said of Spencer's homecoming.

Ebola is extremely difficult to contract, health officials say. The virus can be contracted only by direct contact with the bodily fluids of a symptomatic patient, according to health officials.

In a statement, officials with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, where Spencer is a physician, said they look "forward to his return to work after he has had sufficient time to resume a normal routine."

Health officials would not detail Spencer's course of treatment but said he had the best medicines and procedures available.

With Ellen Yan

A note to our community:

As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.

SUBSCRIBE

Cancel anytime

Health