A Maryland urgent care center is feeling the sting of negative news coverage, not to mention possible loss of patients and its reputation, after a woman says her daughter was denied care because of her race—by staff members who say they thought they were following company policy. The white mother brought her adopted black daughter in to the clinic after the girl jammed her finger. Based on the racial difference, the person at the front desk and the supervisor expressed doubt that the woman was the girl’s mother and said the girl could not see a provider unless the woman produced documentation proving her maternal claim. She didn’t have anything of the kind with her but insisted that the girl was indeed her adopted daughter, to no avail. They were turned away to seek care elsewhere. By the time they returned home after having done so, the mom was ready to start venting on Facebook. Then came angry calls to the local media, who brought the story into thousands of homes. The company issued statements explaining that when a minor presents with an adult who states they’re the child’s parent (as this mom says she did), their policy is to “take them at their word.” If they use the word guardian, documentation is required before registration can be completed. The problem seems to boil down to the staff members on site not recognizing the distinction. The family has since received a written apology from company headquarters, but the ugly headlines—and the family’s experience—can’t be undone. Ensure that your team is well versed not only in company policy, but in how to handle situations with compassion and respect for patients who may not be at their best.
Don’t Let Cultural Insensitivity Cost Your Urgent Care Center Patients (or Bad Press)