Discriminatory Care: Part One
Being my cheerful self, I walked into the patient's room, introduced myself and immediately felt the frozen gazes of several family members. The one family member who could speak a little English told me it wasn't a good time to see his grandmother. I tried to get a commitment time from him but he deferred and suggested I come back later. No problem, I told myself, but later never came.
The family asked supervisors that I not come back because they didn't want someone like me to see the patient. Someone like me, in this instance, meant I'm male and don't speak the same language as them. The family specifically requested a female, fluently bilingual therapist. This isn't the first time a patient or family member has made a request pertaining to their comfort level in who treats them or their loved one. I have read about family members requesting that only white people treat their family member because of the patient's comfort level and facilities will sometimes honor the request.
When facilities begin to acquiescence to requests like this, it can interfere with the hiring of potential caregivers who have excellent patient care skills. These caregivers will travel where they are more welcome to provide their care to whoever needs it. Suppose I request only female EMTs when I call 911 because an accident happens at my home or only male CNAs for myself when I'm in the hospital? How about only male nurses and only female surgeons because I'm most comfortable with their care? Will this affect how a facility or business hires people? Yes. And it prevents extremely gifted people who are skilled at their jobs from doing what they do best.
In the instance above, it wasn't the first time I was asked not to see a patient based on my gender and limited language ability. Even with an interpreter by my side, I was asked to leave a room one time. The interpreter didn't tell me everything, but I suspected it was more than me being male and not fluent in the language they spoke. So I kept stepping, because I had work to do with people who wanted me to help them get them better.