Mich hospital sued for agreeing to racist’s demand that no black nurses treat his baby

More embarrassment for the Mitten state

Tonya Battle is a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse at the Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan. Last year on Halloween, she was caring for a baby in the NICU unit. The baby’s father, approached her, and asked to see her supervisor. What happened next is right out of the early part of the 20th Century racist south.

The man demanded that no African American nurses care for his baby. Not only that, the hospital complied. They are now being sued by Tonya Battle.

According to the complaint, which you can read HERE (pdf), the man rolled up his sleeve when he spoke to Battle’s supervisor, showing a tattoo that is believed to be a swastika. Battle, who is African American, and all other African American nurses where then prohibited from treating this racist’s sick baby. The assignment clipboard, according to the complaint, had a note prominently displayed reading, “NO AFRICAN AMERICAN NURSE TO TAKE CARE OF BABY”.

Although Hurley Medical Center’s lawyer told them they couldn’t do that, they continued to do so anyway for the month the baby was in their care.


Hurley Medical Center’s ironic logo

Battle’s lawsuit has three counts: (1) Violation of her equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment, (2) Violation of her rights under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, and (3), intentional infliction of emotional distress by Battle’s supervisor. Battle claims that she was subject to intimidation, ridicule and insult when she filed complaints with her employer.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurses receive special training specific to that critically important job. It’s bad enough that this racist bigot insulted her and her fellow nurses in this way. His right to be a racist bigot is constitutionally protected. The hospital, however, has no such right and they have shamed the medical profession with their actions.

Strangely, this story has not been reported in the major Michigan newspapers. I cannot for the life of me imagine why.

Adding… This story has me seething. As LOLGOP counsels me, it’s newsworthy because it’s rare so that’s something. But this sort of blatant racism is startling in this day and age and make me rage. Flint is 56.6% African American according to the last census. Of course there are going to be African American nurses working there. What the hell did this ignorant Neanderthal bigot think and why would he take his sick baby there? The mind, it boggles…

[Hat tip: Christian Dem in NC | Daily Kos]

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  • TeacherPatti

    I’m sure other patients have refused a woman doctor or (perceived) gay employee…how do hospitals deal with that? When I worked legal aid, I once had a white client say, “I’m so glad you are white!”. I had no idea what to do or say and just sat there looking like an idiot until she started rattling on about her dead beat baby daddy. I wish I had had the courage to stand up and I didn’t and I’m still bothered by this 12 years later.

  • Georgina

    Racism is alive and well even in the age of President Obama. Maybe not this obvious, but frequently disguised by more politically neutral actions.

    • Carol

      I would rephrase that to “especially in the age of Pres. Obama”. The election of our first black President (it’s about time) only serves to heighten racist rage and outrage…”subtle” or not..and remind us of how far we have yet to travel.

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  • move on

    i think the black lady should have went to another patient and went to work there but she is very racism for making a big deal of it its always about my poor feeling move on dam

  • aztec

    I’m a ‘minority’ nurse and have been a nurse nearly 30 years. Prejudice exists across more than color boundaries. Been denied my “right” to do my job, by people exercising their “right” to refuse care from whomever they want. I have seem women refuse male nurses and no one bats an eye. I have seen pt’s refuse nurses based on their color. I have seen blacks demand that only blacks take care of them. I have seen blacks refuse black nurses. Dumb racist being racist! Dumb hospital being stupid in it’s handling of the matter. Dumb nurse, trying to make a buck because she’s offended. Be thankful you have a job, or look for another one.

    • Mike

      I have to agree, be thankful of having a job at all. I am surprised the offended nurse even has a case. If someone wants to have that belief, then it is their right to believe this way. This is supposed to be a land where everyone can have that right…even if you don’t believe it or not. So a racist guy says hey I only want a white nurse…who cares?

  • No name

    He don’t know it but someone black did touch the white child in that hospital!

  • No name

    We refuse to serve white people, my choice so it don’t matter-who cares? They have been doing it to use so what’s the difference? I am not a racist!

  • No name

    White people are white and blacks are blacks- what’s really the problem? We are not as dumb as the white society wanted us to be starting out, but also paved the way. Proud to be black don’t hate me hate yourself, that is who you are truly mad at, otherwise you would not waste your time hating someone else, it just take up too much energy. I just wanted to strike a cord when I ran across this because at first and pissed me off at first then I smiled because I feel kind of privileged. Our ancestors has raised more white kids than the white families themselves. That child is not Jesus but a child of God who I pray that turns out totally opposite of how it will be raised and hope that this child lives to see a productive and positive life. You have to try and excuse ignorance because that is what the father actually is-I am black and what I really want to say about the father will cause a widespread controversy so I wont say it. Just pray for those in spite of due to our own ignorance and minds as well.

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  • Nora Florida

    I was horrified with what happened to me recently and I would like to share it with others. It is related to the black nurses. After what happened to me I o not want any black nurse was even coming close to me. I was in hospital. This is a story. Black technician Betty was checking my blood pressure at night and it was 40/67. Seemed she did not like it and she asked me to move my body, to make blood circulation. I did.She checked by blood pressure and it was increased a bit. However, she was not satisfied and she called to a nurse. Nurse Rose (also black) came and said “we do not work like this!” I did not understand what she meant. After I figured out: they were struggling to be “excellent nurses.” This nurse Rose started manipulate with my electric bed putting my head down and legs up, and the, they checked my blood pressure again. Now, lower level was 52 and they were satisfyed and recorded this info electronically. They reported my health condition to a doctor. two nights I had 40s lower level of my blood pressure and doctor did not know anything about it.

    When doctor came in the morning, he saw 52, and was OK with it.

    From the beginning, he prescribed to me to take in a hospital a medication – Metoprolol, that lower the blood pressure. I did not take it because I felt from my past experience it doesn’t help (not because it makes blood pressure lower). Now, please imagine a situation if I was taking Metoprolol, what my blood pressure would be at night? 20/40.

    I did not understand from the beginning that nurses are hiding my low blood pressure from the doctor and when I said to a doctor in the morning that I had a blood pressure 40/67, he said that if I had this I would be dead. I was shocked, he did not know anything!

    I do not blame those parents, mentioned in this article. Fighting for “excellence” those without dignity can kill you by striving for their new brand of “excellence”. I am not a racist, but I do not want black nurses come close to me after this – they do not care about patients’ health, they are looking for “excellence”.

  • Nora Florida

    Just to add to previous that Metoprolol was prescribed to lower my heartbeats/ pulse, because it was too fast.

    • KIM

      your stupid, not all black nurses are like that. stop saying the color of the skin made her use bad judgement, but rather her as an individual made the wrong decision, I HAVE SEEN HORRIBLE WHITE NURSES. America is so sad and hopelessly racist society.

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