A public hospital in Michigan is facing lawsuits citing alleged improper behaviour by managers and staff. In a suit filed in Genesee County Circuit Court by a Hurley Medical Center nurse, Tonya Battle, it is claimed that nursing staff at the hospital refused to allow her to treat an infant in the neonatal intensive care unit because she is an African American. Battle’s suit claims that she was working in the unit and caring for a newborn on October 31, 2012, when the baby’s father asked to speak to her supervisor.
Hurley Medical Center is a Tier 1 treatment center located in Flint, Michigan. The city that is the hometown of General Motors is now the scene out-migration, violent crime, and poverty. Many of Hurley's patients are drawn from the neediest sectors of the city.
According to the lawsuit, the father told the supervisor that he did not want an African American treating his child. The suit alleges that the father, who is not named in the suit, spoke to a supervisor and showed a tattoo of what is believed to be a swastika on his arm. The suit further alleges that the man’s child was assigned to another nurse. Furthermore, the suit claims that on November 1, 2012, the decision was made at the hospital that no African American nurses would assigned to the infant in question.
Nurse Battle claims in the suit that a note was attached to an assignment board at the hospital stating, "No African American nurse to take care of baby."
While the suit claims that an attorney advised hospital staff, and the infant’s father, that the request could no longer be upheld, it further alleges that the ban on African American nurses continued in effect. Nurse Battle alleges that the ban lasted for almost one month.
Attorney Julie Gafkay, who represents Battle, claims that her client has been a good employee of the public hospital since 1988. The hospital is not making any statements about the allegations and not yet made a response.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.