"No nurses of color....."

Nurses Relations


What in the world are we supposed to do when a patient makes it known that they "don't want any nurses of color taking care of them"?

There was a patient on my unit last week who mentioned this (I have no idea who she told this to, administration, the doctors, I have no idea who she notified). She was in her 20s and was not on the unit for mental illness issues at all, she had an OBGYN related surgery and was not under any sedative medications, she was able-bodied with full mental capacity! Thank goodness for the patient none of the nurses (all of whom but 2 out of 50-something nurses are people of color) knew about this patient's odd request until she was discharged from the hospital.

What I really wanted to do and say were unprofessional. What are we supposed to do when someone comes to hospital with this request?

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.
The patient pays the bill. So what if they want another nurse of color- in color or by color.
The patient DOES NOT always pay the bill.

Over the years I've observed that the most demanding, virulently hateful patients are receiving charity care. Therefore, the people most likely to demand accommodations are the least likely to be paying their bills at the end of the hospital stay.

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

This is a slightly different issue, but I'm dealing with a resident in my facility who is horribly prejudiced against Hispanics AND homosexuals. He'll allow a Mexican caregiver IF there's no one else available, but he out-and-out refuses to allow our one gay male caregiver in his room because he thinks the young man will "molest" him (as if the kid couldn't do better than a 94-year-old bigot in sweat pants!! :mad:). It didn't bother this resident to receive care from the young fellow before learning that he's gay, and all of us administrators have asked the man why he has a problem now.....but he not only refuses care, he is actively making life hell for the caregiver by calling him ugly names in public areas and accusing him of all sorts of nasty things that could ruin his career (he's taking pre-reqs for the local nursing program and plans to become a trauma nurse).

Here's the rub: the caregiver in question is my son. Which means I can't involve myself in any of this because it'll look like I'm favoring him over the resident, who doesn't know that he's my son (although the man's daughter does, and goes along with him anyway). It takes every bit of self-control I possess to go into my office and shut the door when I hear him yell across the dining room: "Hey, ya little f****t, my soup's cold!" My son, for his part, has learned to let it all run off his back (although he often vents to me in very colorful and descriptive terms during his days off), but I hate it that this resident doesn't get called out on his behavior.

He's alert and oriented, by the way. I get that he's allowed to feel the way he does, but why does he get to be such a jerk about it??! :devil:

Specializes in ortho, hospice volunteer, psych,.

my husband spent almost six weeks receiving wound care in a nursing home recently and they had a man like

your patient. he was about the same age and had similar opinions. he was also my husband's roommate.

when my husband arrived, his very first question was, "you ain't onna them f___s, are you? it only went down

hill from there. the man refused any and all care from any male or less feminine looking woman whom he preceived to be gay or lesbian. he would shout out in pt, the dining room, ot, crafts, the main areas, you name

it. none of his family could get him to tone things down.

they handled it by returning him to his room very quietly and quickly and firmly shutting his door.

if he had been in the diing room, his meal would come too, on a tray. he hated that and settled right down.

if he had been in pt or ot, he missed the food rewards but not the pt or ot, so how he acted varied.

in the common areas, he was harder to quiet down.

he'd get bite-sized rewards every hour that he didn't hurl an insult. i think some of the reward plan sunk in

a little.

i'm sorry your son has to endure such garbage.:hug:to you both.

I think in this day and age if a 20 something year old says that then they must have had a traumatic experience that makes them uncomfortable with a certain race. I'm not saying that it is ok. I think the only thing you can do is respect their wish.

I've met many racists who don't always know I'm of hispanic (and white) descent. I don't understand why color matters in the least...we all bleed, we all live and die, we all have the capabilities to be respectful and polite..and more importantly, we all have feelings. I wish MLK was still here. Pity that racist and trashy people still roam the earth.

In the LTC facilities where I worked, such requests were accommodated to the extent that they could be. If it were down to only one space left, too bad. Everyone who made such requests was told that they would be honored only so long as possible. Nobody was made to room with anyone that would make them uncomfortable. It was explained to employees that the population was from a generation where intolerance was more the norm. Now, it warmed my hackles to look a man in the eye and make a comment in the presence of my coworker of another ethnicity to the effect that she would provide as good or better care to him without regard to her background. I didn't bat an eye but you should have seen the look in his eyes, wow. That was not the only time such an incident took place. It just happens that's all.

Specializes in Med Surg - Renal.
I have been told by more then one "Person of Color" that they didn't want 'No white MF taking care of them.' were they bigots? Oh, Dear.

Of course they were. Why do you ask?

I had something similar happen to me recently, a family of color (the patient didn't have a problem) did not want me back as the pt's nurse according to the offgoing nurse, who happened to be of color; the shift before, there had been no apparent problem. I think it was all based on a misunderstanding, which would be cleared up by the MD during rounds. However - after thinking about it (I happened to be off for the next several days, and the pt was discharged), even if they apologized/changed their mind, I would not have taken them back. Reason: The trust was gone (on my part) and I would have worried that the next time something upset them I might be, again, blamed for something I didn't do (or whatever the issue was, they never gave a reason)!

Agree with others, although this is sad, if pts/families have such requests (not just racial, anything of the sort) - they should be accommodated. Why set a nurse up to be the target of their anger issues or bigotry?!

Specializes in Med Surg - Renal.
My 90 year old grandmother kept kicking out her home nurses. I yelled at her and apologized to the nurses.

Reminds me of part of George Lopez' standup. His grandmother was very prejudiced against blacks and when she needed home care he decided to teach her a lesson, "I got her 12 nurses...and each one of them was blacker than the other!"

The bit starts at the beginning of this video. Warning, it's rated R...and it's a trip in the context of allnurses.

George Lopez Stand Up Part 5 - YouTube

Specializes in peds-trach/vent.
I think in this day and age if a 20 something year old says that then they must have had a traumatic experience that makes them uncomfortable with a certain race. I'm not saying that it is ok. I think the only thing you can do is respect their wish.

i do believe that traumatic experience is called mom and dad and general upbringing.

Did you really just type this. Really???

i don't think it makes a difference as to who said what.

the bottom line is, do we accommodate the bigots, or not?


I would say not. Arrangements can be made for the person to be sent home and pay for a private caregiver. Once a person who is that much of an ignorant bigot has their demands met, what then? The demands just keep getting bigger and more far fetched than the next. If they are well enough to consume themselves with the skin color of the person who is providing their healthcare,(and honestly, most patients who are truly ill could care less if their care falls from the ceiling, they just want to feel better) they are well enough to survive a trip home. However, should the nurse decline having to deal with a person who is that ignorant, the nurses' needs should be met whenever feasible.

Specializes in retired LTC.

All of this is so sad.

"Can't we all get along!" - Rodney King (4/2/1965 - 6/17/2012)

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