Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Turn Your Radios On

Flyers posted on lampposts along Warren Street by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East call it "the shocking story that everyone needs to know," alleging that "management [at Columbia Memorial Hospital] posted racist, offensive, and discriminatory material in the employee break room . . . [which] disgracefully misrepresented African Americans in unspeakable ways." The following are some examples, which have been posted on Facebook:
  • When possible, use similar ethnic background caregivers
  • African American English pronounces th as d. For example the word "these" may be pronounced "dese."
  • [African Americans] tend to talk louder than other cultures--this loudness . . . should not be considered an expression of anger.
  • being overweight is viewed positively by this community
  • [involve] clergy [in caregiving] when possible
  • Constant direct eye contact can be misinterpreted as aggression. 
What was posted was paraphrased from a handbook called Guide to Culturally Competent Health Care. The following sentence is quoted from the book's introductory chapter: "The literature on health and health-care disparities across ethnic, social, and economic groups continues to demonstrate compelling evidence for health-care organizations to be attentive to cultural diversity and cultural competency." Toward that end, the book presents, in list form, some salient characteristics of twenty-six different cultural groups. One of the chapters is devoted to "People of African American Heritage."

It seems the information was posted in the break room by some nurses wanting to share the insights with their colleagues, but they did an unfortunate job of paraphrasing in some instances, and as a consequence other members of the hospital staff were grievously insulted. This incident, which occurred in June, has led to accusations of racial injustice at Columbia Memorial Hospital. The situation and a candlelight vigil planned for Monday, July 20, will be the topics of discussion on WGXC's @Issue this morning. Victor Mendolia, who hosts @Issue, has announced that the guests on the show will be "hospital workers, union organizers and elected officials." Gossips has learned that one of the guests will be Bill Van Slyke, vice president of marketing and external affairs at CMH. The show begins at 10 a.m. and can be heard at 90.7 FM and online at

Gossips Update: This morning's show has now been archived and can be heard here.

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