By ANNA DITUCCI-CAPPIELLO
Dr. Craig Spencer, New York’s first and only case of Ebola, was discharged from Bellevue Hospital Tuesday bearing a clean bill of health.
“On behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers, I’d like to welcome back Craig Spencer to his regular life,” said Mayor Di Blasio before turning to embrace the doctor. “It’s an honor to hug a hero,” he added.
Mayor di Blasio stood among a team of doctors and nurses at Bellevue hospital, lauding them for their work in the past few weeks treating Dr. Spencer, an employee of Doctors Without Borders who contracted the virus while aiding patients in Guinea.
“The finest public health system in the world is in New York City,” the mayor said.
Mayor di Blasio and Dr. Spencer alike urged civilians to turn their attention towards West Africa, where the epidemic rages on. “My infection represents only a fraction of the 13,000 cases in West Africa,” said Spencer, and added that the doctors on the front line were the “true heroes we are not talking about.”
Sophie Delaunay, executive director of Doctors Without Borders said that it was “imperative that our focus remains in West Africa. Stopping it there protects us here. Fear is Ebola’s greatest ally.”
On October 17, Spencer returned to the city from Guinea, and October 23 he reported to the hospital after noting a fever and other early symptoms of the disease. “I am living example of the protocols working,” Spencer said, adding, “early detection is critical.”
Dr. Laura Evans, head of the treatment staff assigned to Spencer, said that when she was first called into help, she believed that it was another of many drills the medical staff had been holding to prepare for Ebola cases. Evans called Spencer “inspiring “ and said she and her staff “celebrate and admire healthcare professionals like him.”
New York Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said she “wanted to salute” Spencer, “not only for the people of Guinea, but for all of us.”
Dr. Spencer said that he would not comment publicly again, and asked reporters to respect his privacy be as he returned to regular life and his apartment in Manhattan and that the press instead “focus their attention on West Africa.”