Ebola Czar Stepping Down

,

Ron Klain, who was appointed "Ebola czar" on Oct. 17, will head back to his private sector work as president of Case Holdings and general counsel for Case's Revolution LLC no later than March 1.

After just 6 weeks in the job, US Ebola czar Ron Klain has announced that he's heading back to the private sector.

Klain, who was appointed “Ebola czar” on Oct. 17, will head back to his private sector work as president of Case Holdings and general counsel for Case’s Revolution LLC no later than March 1,

according

.

a report by Fortune magazine

The news contradicts some earlier reports that Klain would stay on at the White House after finishing up his Ebola work. It also calls into question whether the mobilization of healthcare workers that came about earlier this fall will continue.

There are no active cases of Ebola in the US, but the crisis continues to rage in West Africa. It’s been nearly one month since Craig Spencer, MD, the last of 4 people to be diagnosed with the virus on US soil, was released from the hospital.

The 4 US Ebola cases created concerns among many that the US healthcare system was not as prepared to fight the virus as it should have been. Thomas Eric Duncan, the first US Ebola case, was initially turned away from a Dallas hospital, before returning days later and being diagnosed with Ebola. Many other hospitals were found to have little or no supplies of necessary personal protective equipment.

Just last week, the CDC criticized US healthcare workers’ response to caring for Ebola patients. The agency said at least 2 patients who were suspected of having Ebola may have died because healthcare workers were afraid of caring for them. Those patients turned out not to have the virus. Care was also delayed for dozens of patients while caregivers awaited the results of Ebola tests.

The CDC also announced on Dec. 4 that it has designated 36 hospitals as Ebola treatment centers. But some hospitals are balking at the expense. The Greater New York Hospital Association last week took out full page ads in Washington newspapers saying New York’s hospitals would need more federal funding to cover their Ebola costs.

President Obama in November proposed spending $6.2 billion to aid in Ebola treatment and prevention, arguing that the US cannot let down its guard until the virus is under control in Africa. At a tour of the National Institutes of Health last week, Obama urged Congress to approve the money.

"Every hotspot is an ember that if not contained can become a new fire, so we cannot let down our guard even for a minute," Obama said, according to Reuters.

However, Obama’s vigilance could be undermined by Klain’s departure, as the president must soon decide whether to wind down his Ebola operations, or appoint a successor.