Madrid Fires Health Chief Who Insulted Ebola Victim

Madrid Fires Health Chief Who Insulted Ebola Victim

Gaffe-prone Madrid health chief Javier Rodríguez, who received a swell of criticism for implying that auxiliary nurse Teresa Romero contracted Ebola because of her own lack of care, has been fired from his position after Romero and her family publicized intentions to sue Madrid for his remarks.

The firing appears to be directly related to how Rodríguez handled Romero’s case, the first instance of someone contracting the Ebola virus outside of the African continent. The Associated Press reports that Rodríguez was removed from his position after being called before government officials to argue in defense of how he and his office dealt with the Romero case.

In his defense, Rodríguez insisted that he should not be removed, as Romero was still alive, and this was proof of his success in his position. “If I had done my job wrong,” he told the panel, “she would not be speaking,” adding: “What I have to do is congratulate us because she has not died and because this had a happy ending.”

Romero had cared for two Ebola patients– both Catholic missionaries flown back to Spain with the virus from west Africa– in a Madrid hospital using protective gear. She contracted the virus anyway, to which Rodriguez stated publicly that she must have done something to cause her own infection. “You don’t need a Master’s to put on a protective suit,” he joked at the time, adding that, since Romero had visited a hair salon days before her symptoms appeared, she “can’t be that bad.”

In response to Rodríguez’s comments, in addition to the government decision to kill her dog, Excalibur, Romero and her husband Javier Limón are suing Madrid for $373,000. In the immediate aftermath of Rodríguez’s comments, Limón noted that his wife was given only a half hour to learn how to use protective gear before coming into contact with an Ebola patient, and that the hospital and government staff were insufficiently responsive to her concerns. Romero has since returned to her native Galicia from Madrid to spend time with her mother, and has requested to media that they respect her privacy as she continues to recover from her traumatic ordeal.

This morning in Madrid, Javier Maldonado, Rodríguez’s deputy, was sworn in to the position of Madrid Health Chief. While vowing to keep the standards of the government’s health work at their highest possible, he also commended his predecessor for being “an excellent Sanitation Counsel that has worked in this area at an especially delicate moment.”