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Michigan Hospital Sued When It Adds Note To Baby’s Chart: “No African American Nurses…”

February 20, 2013

Before it became clear that Michigan was behind the lawsuit where the father of child requested no African American nurses care for his baby I wondered what type of situation could account for a hospital request for racism.  I wondered who these people might be that they felt that discriminating by a nurse’s race would be acceptable.  I wondered what kind of parents with an infant in intensive care might determine that race discrimination would make for better nursing, a better outcome for their child.  Imagine my sadness when I found out that this happened in Michigan…

“Please, No African American Nurses to care for [redacted] Baby per Dad’s request. Thank you,” read a note that was attached to the baby’s clipboard and obtained by ABC affiliate WJRT in Flint, Mich.This followed a staff meeting and a call to the nurse’s home to inform her of the decision, according to the complaint.

A hospital lawyer eventually told the staff this was illegal, but the lawsuit alleges that black nurses were intentionally not assigned to the baby for the remainder of its stay in the hospital over the next month.

The hospital CEO spoke at a news conference on Tuesday after the local chapter of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network held a press conference at the hospital to demand answers.

“The father was informed that his request could not be granted, and as a result, all nurses remained available to care for his baby,” Hurley CEO Melany Gavulic said, according to WJRT. “We appreciate the community’s concern and involvement today, as we publicly clarify the facts of this case. The medical center looks forward to a quick and amicable resolution.”

The nurse had been employed at Hurley for 25 years. She is seeking damages for her distress, harassment and humiliation.

“She’s going to win this lawsuit. The real question is what’s it worth,” local attorney Tom Pabst told ABC12 last week. He is not involved in the lawsuit. “If you grant such a request, you’re engaging in unlawful conduct.”

The fact that the hospital called their employee at home to tell her that no women of color could care for this patient made me angry and sad, disgusted, and then angry all over again.  Who are these people who determine a person’s worth by their color, their nursing skills, a woman with 25 years experience deemed less capable because of her skin color?  What type of hospital administration gets away with this?  At what point did the administration ever take bigotry into account?




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