Hospital rabbi fired for comments about museum shooting

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

WASHINGTON — A hospital rabbi who comforted the family of a security guard
killed at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has been fired for speaking and
writing about the experience.

Rabbi Tamara Miller wrote on a Washington
in June that “racism and bigotry rang out on the National
Mall” when a shooter walked up to the museum June 10 and killed security guard
Stephen T. Johns. He died at George Washington University Hospital.

The hospital fired Miller five weeks later, saying her essay and comments to
a reporter violated hospital policy and federal patient privacy rules. Miller,
who also spoke about why she had attended Johns' funeral, says she revealed
nothing that was not already public knowledge.

The Washington Post reported Oct. 16 that the hospital contended that
Miller's comments had violated HIPAA, the federal Health Insurance Portability
and Accountability Act, “which is designed to protect confidential patient
information, because Miller referred to Johns and mentioned his treatment and

According to the Post, the hospital also said Miller's comments had
violated a hospital policy against staff members' talking to the press without

Miller, according to the Post, accused the hospital of firing her over
a salary complaint under the cover of the privacy and media policies.

But the newspaper quoted Lisa McDonald, a hospital marketing official, as
saying, “The hospital's viewpoint is that she did release patient information,”
even if it had already appeared elsewhere from other sources.

Johns's family pastor supported Miller, asserting that
her words had comforted the family and had not abridged its privacy, the Post said.

Washington Jewish Week first reported the dispute.

A white supremacist named James von Brunn is charged in the killing.

Tags: , ,