Racist Dad's 'No Black Nurses' Request for Baby Gets Hospital Sued

Say What!? 189

hospitalA Michigan hospital is facing a lawsuit filed by one of its own nurses today in what sounds like a troubling cases of racism compounded by ineptitude. Tonya Battle says the father of a patient in the neonatal intensive care unit demanded "no black nurses" treat his baby at the Hurley Medical Center. Sick?

It gets worse. Battle's lawsuit alleges the facility took the racist man's side.

The lawsuit claims a note was posted advising "No African American nurse to take care of baby," and the baby was reassigned to another nurse. Battle says she was also reassigned to another patient, and nurses of color were kept from the baby for a month-long stay.

That was October. Now here we are in February, and Battle isn't suing to have access to the baby. She's suing for punitive damages for "emotional stress, mental anguish, humiliation and damage to her reputation."

If what she's alleging is true, the lawsuit sounds warranted.

So let's talk about what the hospital SHOULD have done here. Say you're a charge nurse. You have an angry father showing you a swastika on his arm and demanding black nurses be kept away from his baby. Do you agree with him just to shut the freak show up? Do you tell him to grab his baby and hit the road?

It's a hard call. Obviously the first option is wrong. That's allegedly what has this hospital in the midst of a lawsuit.

And yet, the second isn't exactly right either. Bosses need to stand up for their employees, especially in the face of such blatant bigotry. But we're talking about a sick child here. Who knows what it would have done to this little guy to move him?

So then what is the answer? Is there a middle ground?

I benefit from 20/20 hindsight here, but I can't help but wonder if this all would have been averted if the charge nurse had opened up to Battle and made her a part of the process.

Say she'd told the man that "sorry, no, we don't practice discrimination in the workplace," but looped Battle in. Say she'd told her nurse she backs her 100 percent, and that she can stick with the case or opt for another patient, no questions asked. Given the choice of working with a clear racist or a family that would appreciate her, I'm betting Battle would have appreciated her boss having her back ... and asked for a transfer herself.

Simply showing your employees they are valued goes a long, long way, even in health care.

Because a hospital is like any other business. The customers may be the reason the business exists, but without the employees, you can't serve the customers.

What do you think the hospital should have done in this situation? Is there any perfect answer?

 

Image via Frenkieb/Flickr

corporations, health care, human rights

189 Comments

To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

mommy... mommyof5cutties

First off I had a baby in NICU for over a week and I was very grateful for the care they gave. The nurses worked with us in the care of the child... and that's what is moat important... care of a child.. it should not matter if the nurse is white or black... it should only matter if they can do their job. I think she should win every penny and the father should have been escorted our of the hospital... that kind of request is disgusting... when it comes to your child it should only matter that they get the best care

nonmember avatar Erica Brown

Nobody should be rewarded money for a sick child's parents wishes over something as silly as this!!!

mommy... mommyof5cutties

(Sorry for typo... phone is glitchy)

mommy... mommyof5cutties

First off I had a baby in NICU for over a week and I was very grateful for the care they gave. The nurses worked with us in the care of the child... and that's what is moat important... care of a child.. it should not matter if the nurse is white or black... it should only matter if they can do their job. I think she should win every penny and the father should have been escorted our of the hospital... that kind of request is disgusting... when it comes to your child it should only matter that they get the best care

Julie Hull-Wilkins

you honor the parents wishes..its their child, wrong or not, it is not up to anyone but the parents to decide.

Amanda Patton

The hospital was acting in the best interest of the patient, as they are required to do. If the baby couldn't be moved, what else are they supposed to do? While working as a Nursing Assistant at two large hospitals I have had patients request only male assistants care for a patient due to religious or cultural beliefs, as well as only female assistants for certain patients. I have also had minority patients requesting certain nursing assistants because the black assistant "knows how to do her hair". These requests are always honored so long as we have staffing to do so. How is that any different? If this man has strong beliefs do they not deserve the same respect we give to everyone else's? Or do his beliefs not count because we don't understand them or because he's white? That sounds pretty racist to me. If we want to be a liberal society, we should be liberal toward all and not just toward those we agree with.

nonmember avatar RandomMom

Tell him you refuse to discriminate against your employees, and are certain other hospitals will follow the laws just like you. That being said, if he tries to remove the baby from your care, you will report him for child endangerment. Child services will make sure the child stays in the hospital, and probably put him/her in foster care upon release.

Kaela Wheeler

Julie and Erica...that's crazy talk. What if there were no white nurses scheduled? What if a parent requested no female nurses and no male nurses are around? The what ifs could go on and on. A parent in this instance does not have the right to demand anything from the hospital but that their child be given the best of care by properly educated and trained staff. End of story. If the parents then deny access to necessary medical care or assistance for their baby because it might be given by a black employee, then I think they need to be looked at by child protective services and sued for negligence. How's that sound?

Margaret Ascencio

Employer should have backed the employee 100%. If the father was ignorant enough to attempt to take sick baby from hospital, maybe Child Protection services should have been involved. It surprises me that the father was aloud to get away with his bad behavior.

lulou lulou

You shut him up - at first try diplomatically., but his request is out of line.  If the child is sick enough where they cannot be moved, bring in authorities. 


 

1-10 of 189 comments 12345 Last
F