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Are Liberians facing Ebola discrimination?

A woman accused by medical staff of having Ebola says Liberians are facing bias because of Ebola panic.

Roslyn Gray tells her story.

Charles Mostoller

A Liberian immigrant says she was the victim of discrimination when she was recently diagnosed with Ebola by a local clinic despite having no symptoms.

"I was humiliated," said Rosyln Gray, 47, her voice breaking with emotion.

Gray went to Spectrum Health Clinic on 52nd Street and Haverford Avenue around 3 p.m. on Oct. 20, because her hands were swollen. She later learned it was an allergic reaction to penicillin.

When she saw a doctor, after a few questions, the doctor abruptly ran out of the room, Gray said.

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The doctor returned half an hour later, stood in the doorway and told Gray to stay as far away as possible, Gray recalled, as tears began to fall down her face again.

"She said, 'You have to go to the Ebola clinic. You have Ebola,'" Gray recalled.

Gray said the doctor told her she had a temperature of 105. But Gray said she felt no fever and the reading was faulty.

When paramedics came to bring Gray to the UPenn hospital, they found she had no fever, but Spectrum staff — all wearing oxygen masks — insisted that Gray go to the hospital.

Gray was there for eight hours, she said, before she was released with no symptoms.

"Even if somebody has Ebola, they shouldn't be treated like an outcast," Gray said. "I don't blame them for being afraid. But there was a better way to do it."

Spectrum Health Clinic did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Gray said she was the victim of ongoing discrimination against Liberians in Philadelphia right now.

"We Liberians are attacked in this country right now," she said.

She said there are heard stories that Liberian children have been taunted with names like "Ebola" and "virus" at schools. She also said a Liberian told her he was fired from a new job on the first day due to being Liberian, and Liberians are afraid to seek medical help.

"I have friends with headaches who are afraid to go to the hospital," said Gray's coworker and friend, Jacob Collins, 29. "Just because you talk on the phone to people in Liberia doesn't mean you have Ebola."

Liberian Association of Pennsylvania president Dahn Dennis said Liberians who experience discrimination must report it.

"What we are encouraging people to do is if they see this happening, if this happens to you,
come forward, so we can keep track of it," Dennis said.
School District spokesperson Fernando Gallard said parents can anonymously report bullying of Liberians by reporting the school where it happened.
 
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