FORT KENT, Maine — Ted Wilbur, the boyfriend of nurse Kaci Hickox, has formally withdrawn from the nursing program at the University of Maine at Fort Kent and the two plan to move away from Fort Kent within the week.
Wilbur made his decision after he and the campus apparently were unable to reach a mutually satisfactory plan for his return to classes this week.
“I know [Wilbur] has spoken publicly with concerns he had about returning,” Dan Demeritt, University of Maine System spokesman, said Saturday morning. “Our position is we worked with Ted and the broader campus community to address all the concerns and uncertainties we faced over the last couple of weeks.”
Hickox returned to Fort Kent Oct. 27 after flying to New York on Oct. 24 from West Africa, where she treated Ebola patients. She is not considered contagious, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because she has tested negative for the virus and has shown no symptoms.
A temporary court order issued at the end of October and made permanent last week, however, requires Hickox to be monitored daily and places some travel restrictions on her until 21 days — the incubation period for the Ebola virus — have past since she last had contact with a patient suffering from Ebola. That incubation period for Hickox ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10.
The order did not mandate Hickox be isolated at home as the state had sought.
Hickox and Wilbur, however, told Fort Kent Police Chief Tom Pelletier that in spite of the court decision they did not plan on going into town to shop or eat.
“They understand the sentiment in the community, and they do not want to be disruptive,” Pelletier said last week.
Since Hickox’s return to the home they share here, Wilbur has been participating in his accelerated nursing program at UMFK via online classes.
UMFK officials said last week they were working on a plan to reintegrate Wilbur onto the campus.
“I am not concerned he is a threat to anyone’s health,” Raymond Phinney, UMFK associate dean of student life, said last week. “My only concern is how the other students would react to him being here.”
Several students, Phinney said, were concerned about having Wilbur back in class before the 21-day incubation period for Ebola expires for Hickox.
“Ted is aware there are some real concerns,” Phinney said.
On Saturday, Phinney said he could not discuss the specifics of Wilbur’s withdrawing from campus, but did say he had not heard any recent specific concerns from any UMFK students.
“We were prepared to have him come back,” Phinney said.
Privacy laws limit officials’ comments about students, but Demeritt said Saturday he “regretted” that Wilbur decided to leave UMFK and that Wilbur feels university officials did not do enough to accommodate him.
“We had a broad body of concerns to deal with,” Demeritt said. “Campus officials worked closely with first responders, health workers and local law enforcement on this, [and] we truly regret he did not think we did enough to address his concerns.”
But in the end, Demeritt said, officials needed to balance the safety and concerns of everyone involved and an earnest effort was made to accommodate Wilbur.
Neither Phinney nor Demeritt would comment on any specific threat, but several social media sites dedicated to keeping Hickox out of Fort Kent and Maine have gone online since Hickox returned to Fort Kent.
Fort Kent Police Chief Pelletier, who could not be reached for comment on Saturday, has been monitoring those websites for any specific threats made toward Hickox or Wilbur.
“We wish Kaci and Ted the very best,” Demeritt said. “They are both really very compelling people.”
On Saturday Hickox and Wilbur sat down for a wide ranging interview on what it’s been like being in the media spotlight, how they have dealt with local reaction and their decision to leave Fort Kent. That interview will be posted online Sunday morning.