Ebola survivor Teresa Romero to see Madrid health chief in court

Javier Rodríguez declines to attend lawsuit mediation session with nursing assistant

Nursing assistant Teresa Romero was discharged after spending a month in the hospital.
Nursing assistant Teresa Romero was discharged after spending a month in the hospital.Luis Sevillano

Ebola survivor Teresa Romero and the regional health chief of Madrid will see each other in court after the latter declined to attend a mediation session offered by the nursing assistant’s lawyers.

Romero, who became the first person to be infected with Ebola outside Africa, is suing Madrid health department head Javier Rodríguez for attacking her honor while she was fighting for her life inside an isolation ward at the capital’s Carlos III Hospital.

As fears grew that the virus might spread out of control, Rodríguez made public statements to the effect that Romero had lied to medics about her condition in the days prior to her hospital admission, when she was already running a high fever.

He also suggested that her infection may have been caused by her clumsiness in removing the protective suit she wore to treat an Ebola patient at Carlos III.

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After Romero’s husband Javier Limón complained in public about these statements, the health commissioner issued an apology and attempted to meet in person with Limón, who declined and threatened legal action. Now the couple is asking for €150,000 in damages.

A spokeswoman for the regional health department confirmed that the case would go straight to the courts, where other complaints relating to the Ebola crisis are already beginning to pile up.

An investigative court in Madrid is already examining two other claims made by other plaintiffs in connection with the way the crisis was handled at Carlos III Hospital, which has dealt with all the Ebola victims treated in Spain. One of the complaints was filed by a group of 15 doctors over alleged deficiencies in safety measures and personnel training.

Teresa Romero’s defense is also suing regional health authorities for another €150,000 for putting down her dog as a preventive safety measure while she and her husband were in hospital. An online campaign led by Limón to save the couple’s pet drew protestors to the couple’s apartment in Alcorcón but failed to stop it from being destroyed.

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