Supporters of a GW Hospital rabbi who was fired last summer rallied in her support on Friday in front of the GW Hospital, demanding that Rabbi Tamara Miller be reinstated as the head of spiritual care at the hospital. Miller will soon be filing a wrongful termination complaint, her attorney Lynne Bernabei said in an interview.
Miller was fired after hospital representatives said she violated the hospital’s media policy and federal patient privacy rules after she wrote publicly about comforting the family of a security guard who was shot and killed at the Holocaust Museum last June. Miller had written an essay for The Washington post’s “On Faith” blog in July about her experience praying with the wife of the deceased security guard, Stephen Johns.
Around 20 protesters gathered outside of the GW Hospital, chanting “compassion is not a HIPAA violation,” referring to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that prevents staff from releasing patient information. Other spiritual leaders, including Johns’ pastor Reverend John McCoy spoke in Miller’s defense.
Miller said she held the protest to get the attention of the hospital administration.
“They have not been willing to negotiate mediate, sit down at the table with us. So basically they discarded our claim,” Miller said.
McCoy said at the rally that he was present while Miller served the Johns family and that he had never witnessed more professionalism or tender compassion than by Miller. He said his calls to hospital superiors have not been returned.
“If Stephen Johns was the six millionth and one victim of the Holocaust, certainly Rabbi Miller was its six millionth and second victim. We demand justice for Rabbi Miller,” McCoy said at the protest.
Bernabi said Miller did not violate any federal privacy laws, and that she thinks she was fired for hiring more black pastors and that she complained of equal pay violations, and to fit into the hospital’s “marketing plan.”
“HIPPA is really intended to protect confidential medical information, she didn’t disclose anything was confidential, everyone in the world knew [Johns] was treated at GW Hospital,” Bernabi said.
Both Miller and Bernabi said Johns’ widow and his family are supporting Miller’s cause.
“There’s been a real positive outcome, that the communities have come together to show our solidarity in working together all this happened because of the bigotry and the hate that exists in our country and we want to do our small part to bring good into the world,” Miller said.
Miller said that on Thursday she and McCoy will appear on the WAMU 88.5 Kojo Nnamdi show to discuss services integration in D.C.
This article appeared in the March 8, 2010 issue of the Hatchet.