Published Saturday, May 29, 2004
EEOC Finds That Former Nurse Was Harassed
She says she was fired from a hospital because of rumors that were spread.
By Lauren Glenn
HAINES CITY -- An investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has concluded that a former labor and delivery nurse at Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center was the victim of harassment and discrimination.
Tammi Carter was fired in August after rumors spread that she had endangered a mother and her infant during a delivery.
Carter denies this and cites it as an example of the harassment she endured at the hospital.
Officials at Heart of Florida could not be reached for comment.
Complicating matters was Carter's own pregnancy.
Soon after she left Heart of Florida, Carter gave birth to triplets there, despite an alleged request by former nursing supervisor Beth Schneider that she not be delivered at the hospital.
"Beth Schneider asked (my doctor), `Please do not let her deliver here. We want her to deliver somewhere else,' " Carter said during an interview at her Winter Haven home. "That's discrimination, right there."
Carter gave birth at Heart of Florida anyway. One of the triplets died after delivery, an already difficult blow made worse by the loss of her job.
"I had lost my baby and my job," Carter said.
According to the EEOC's findings, which the agency issued in April, "the alleged discriminating official (Schneider and other hospital officials) . . . skewed the evidence to make it appear as if (Carter) placed a mother and her newborn at risk."
Schneider, who no longer works at Heart of Florida, could not be reached for comment.
The incident in question stemmed from an afternoon childbirth July 28, 2003. When summer storms and rain prevented a patient's doctor, Julio San Martin, from arriving on time to deliver the baby, Carter and another nurse, Diana Snipes, had to make the delivery.
The patient's mother later accused Carter of trying to prevent the delivery by pushing against the baby's head while it was crowning, a move known as the Zavanelli maneuver, which is used to delay birth during complicated or dangerous deliveries.
According to a letter by San Martin addressing the alleged incident, another doctor, Cheryl DeZayas, approached him concerned because of the mother's allegations.
"At that moment I dismissed the allegation and I informed Dr. DeZayas that (the patient's) mother had also told one of the postpartum nurses that I was a racist, even though, like the patient, I am also of Hispanic origin," San Martin wrote in the letter.
San Martin wrote that there was no reason for the Zavanelli maneuver to be performed and that the baby was perfectly healthy.
"I told Mrs. Schneider that I found it hard to believe that Mrs. Carter would take such action because she was an experienced obstetrical nurse, and I had never before known her to do anything so inappropriate," San Martin wrote.
Carter has filed a lawsuit against the medical center.
In its response, Heart of Florida accuses her of pushing against the baby's head three times, and of admitting to hospital officials that she did so.
The response also states that another nurse present during the incident -- Snipes -- confirmed the accusation, a claim Snipes denied to San Martin, according to the letter from him to the EEOC.
Carter said she doesn't know why anyone would start such a rumor, and she doesn't know why Schneider would hold any resentment toward her.
When contacted by The Ledger, Snipes declined to comment and said she feared she would be fired from her job at Heart of Florida if she answered any questions.