In a scathing letter calling for the resignation of Madrid’s regional health chief Javier Rodríguez, the husband of a nurse auxiliary who contracted Ebola from a patient in Spain asserts that his wife received only half an hour of training in how to appropriately use protective gear, and chides the government for not doing enough to protect her.
“She only had a half hour to learn how to put on her suit,” writes husband Javier Limón of his wife, Teresa Romero, who remains hospitalized in Madrid after contracting Ebola from a Spanish missionary flown into Madrid from Sierra Leone. In the letter, read aloud by a family friend as Limón remains under quarantine, is directed to Rodríguez, who Limón addresses “to show you my respect and admiration and to demand, from the point of ignorance of a welder and his wife– who struggles between life and death– an explanation on how to wear a protective suit, as my wife regrettably does not have a Master’s degree.” The latter comment is a response to one of many incendiary statements by Rodríguez, who said publicly “one doesn’t need a Master’s degree” to understand how protective infectious disease gear works.
Limón adds shortly thereafter his call for Rodríguez to resign. “I have a great respect for you, respect you have not had with Teresa,” he writes. “When I hear that, in other countries, health care workers are quarantined after treating Ebola patients, I think that my wife did not need to be fighting for her life, Excalibur [the couple’s 12-year-old dog who was euthanized last week] would be alive, and none of us under quarantine would be in grave danger.”
Limón also addresses what Spaniards considered an even more inconsiderate comment from Rodríguez, who, following the announcement that two hair stylists had been quarantined after coming into contact with Romero, opined, “she can’t be that bad if she went to the beauty salon.” “She wasn’t doing so badly, friend,” replies Limón wryly in the letter, “she only had Ebola.”
Limón concludes explaining that “no one told us we could not do what we did,” referring to Romero’s interactions in public after coming into contact with Ebola, and calls once more for Rodríguez to resign.
Limón’s assertions that Romero was given little guidance on how to use her protective gear and none whatsoever regarding self-monitoring for Ebola follow remarks by Romero herself to Spanish newspaper El Mundo that she has “no idea whatsoever” how she contracted the virus. Spanish officials have remarked that human error– notably, that Romero may have touched her face with contaminated gloves during the suit removal process– caused the contamination.
Another medical professional in Madrid, the doctor who treated Romero before her diagnosis was made public, also condemned the Spanish government and medical officials for their lack of training and concern for medical personnel. Dr. Juan Manuel Parra Rodríguez alleges that he only found out he had treated an Ebola patient from the news media, and that his protective gear during his interactions with Romero was significantly flawed: “my sleeves were short at all times.” In another act of protest, the staff of Carlos III Hospital– Romero’s coworkers– shouted “out!” and threw their used sanitary gloves at Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last week during a visit to the hospital.