Robin Erb, Detroit Free Press
The head of Hurley Medical Center in Flint denied allegations this afternoon that hospital officials relented to a father's request that African-American nurses not tend to his baby.
Rather, when the father showed a nursing supervisor his swastika tattoo, it "created anger and outrage in our staff," Melany Gavulic, president and CEO, said in a written statement.
"This resulted in concern by supervisors for the safety of the staff. The father was informed that his request could not be granted," the statement said.
Further, Hurley "has had a rich history and reputation of supporting and valuing diversity and remains committed to our policy of non-discrimination," Gavulic said.
Additionally, its officials value their patients and staff, including nurse Tonya Battle "and her quarter-century of professionalism and dedication," Gavulic said.
Last month, Battle, an African American,filed a lawsuit contending that the hospital prohibited her from caring for an infant last year because a man objected to her race.
She said the problem occurred when the father of a newborn found her caring for his child in October. When she asked to see his identification as he reached toward the child, he demanded to see her supervisor, she told the Free Press on Monday. According to Battle, a note was placed on the assignment chart that read: "No African-American nurse to take care of baby."
The lawsuit has focused a national spotlight on Flint.
Earlier today, the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network, a civil rights group founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton, staged a small protest in front of the hospital led by the Rev. Charles Williams II, the chapter's president.
Earlier in the day, he told the Free Press he wants hospital staff to undergo sensitivity training and release information on the kind of disciplinary action, if any, decision-makers have received.
Frances Gilcreast, president of the Flint NAACP, sits on Hurley's 15-member board of managers.
Gilcreast said she's not surprised by allegations of racism; complaints of prejudice at workplaces and schools and in housing are common at the NAACP office.
But, she said, she also feels strongly about what she called Hurley's well-deserved reputation as a respected part of the community and provider of "high-quality care."
She said the 15-member board may request an investigation into the matter, but it might be limited by how much it can do because the case is in court.
If the allegations are true, she said, and "if this is par for the course, we need to make sure people are held accountable," she said.
Detroit Free Press