MEMPHIS (CN) – A triage nurse claims The Regional Medical Center at Memphis fired her for complaining about its practice of making black patients wait too long. She claims the hospital does the same thing to emergency room patients who do not arrive by ambulance.
Christie Quinn-Glover describes the emergency room nursing staff and doctors as calloused and unconcerned. She claims a coworker said, “I would not let my dog be seen by the emergency room doctors.”
Quinn-Glover worked as a nurse for the Elvis Presley Trauma Center, Burn Center and Medicine Emergency Rooms for 11 years, according to the complaint in Shelby County Court.
She was a triage nurse, responsible for assessing patients’ condition on arrival, in all of the center’s emergency rooms.
She says she was one of only two black triage nurses for the Elvis Presley Trauma Center.
“Nearly all patients that are admitted through the Trauma Center and ER are African-American patients,” the complaint states. “However, all of defendant’s Trauma Center staff charged with placement of waiting patients are Caucasian.”
It was only in the last few years that Quinn-Glover says she noticed that patients with life-threatening conditions were being made to wait longer, even when medical staff and treatment rooms were available.
“Plaintiff also observed the Trauma Center nursing staff selectively place Caucasian patients waiting in the ER before African-American patients who had been waiting much longer and in some cases with more severe or emergent injuries than the Caucasian patients,” according to the complaint.
Quinn-Glover claims the staff’s response and her patients’ situation got worse when she complained to the department head, Pam Castleman, and nursing supervisor, Jackie Smart.
Instead of figuring out how to see patients faster, she says, Medical Center changed policies to “justify long wait times for patients not using ambulance transport despite being notified by plaintiff of severity of illness.”
Quinn-Glover claims in response to her complaints that white patients were receiving preferential treatment, Castleman said she would “take care of it.”
But Quinn-Glover says that in one of her last shifts, several patients waited 4 to 7 hours or more for care; a hysterical mother was unable to find out how her 17-year-old son was; and a second triage nurse said that the physician in charge, Dr. Shelley Surbrook, did not care.
“She’s a real bitch and that bitch could see some of the patients waiting,” the co-nurse commented, “and I would not let my dog be seen by the emergency room doctors,” according to the complaint.
Quinn-Glover says she was fired on the pretexts of exhibiting “accusatory and confrontational behavior.”
She seeks damages for whistleblower retaliation and is represented by P. Craig Grinstead with Eskins King.