Black doctors say they are facing race-based discrimination


Atlanta (AP) — Dr. Dare Adewumi was excited when he was hired to lead a neurosurgery practice at a hospital in the nearby Atlanta area where he grew up. However, he says he soon faced racism, which eventually led to his dismissal and made it impossible to get a permanent job elsewhere.

His lawyers and other supporters say that not only him, but black doctors across the country, are generally experiencing discrimination, from microaggression to career-threatening disciplinary action. In a highly competitive hospital environment, bias can increase, whether conscious or not, and underestimation of black doctors can discourage them from speaking, they say.

“Many of us are worried about retaliation. What if you say something,” said Dr. Rachel Villanueva, president of the National Medical Association, which represents black doctors. We always practice discriminatory practices and seek our help as an association to combat them. “

According to the American Medical College Association, only 5% of active US doctors in 2018 are black doctors, and the latest data are available. According to the 2020 US Census, people who identify only blacks make up 12.4% of the total population of the United States. In the 2021-202 academic year, 8.1% of medical students were identified as black only.Medical School Association and National Medical Association Announced in 2020 Initiatives to Address the Shortage of Black Men in Medicine — They accounted for only 2.9% of enrolled students in 2019-2020.

President Gerald Harmon is also working with the Historically Black Colleges to help secure scholarships and attract black students to medicine, the American Medical Association, the largest and most influential group of physicians in the United States. ..

“We are trying to spend money where our mouth is in this and our actions are our idea,” he said, especially the shortage of black doctors among black patients. It was admitted that it contributed to the deterioration of health condition.

Some black doctors who believe they have been abused are speaking out. Adewumi, 39, filed a federal proceeding in September against Wellstar Medical Group and Wellstar Health Systems alleging race-based employment discrimination.

“If they don’t like him, that’s one thing, but by law you can’t penalize anyone based on race,” said his lawyer, CK Hoffler. “And that’s exactly what happened, and it’s experienced by many, many highly skilled, highly trained, and highly qualified African-American doctors in this country. That is. “

Adeumi said some of his surgical decisions were questioned and he was placed in a performance evaluation plan, the steps he said were an excuse to kick him out. He had previously had an intact record and said his white colleague did not face similar scrutiny.

“I worked hard and did a lot to reach this level, and all I really wanted to do was help the sick,” he said. “And here I was robbed of this from me for reasons other than my skin color.”

Wellstar’s lawyer, William Hill, said the case was sealed and could not be discussed in detail.

“Wellster does not discriminate. Dr. Adeumi has not been discriminated against or mistreated. Patient care and safety are Wellstar’s top priorities,” Hill wrote in an email. They said they had petitioned to dismiss the proceedings.

Dr. Stella Safo, an HIV expert, is one of a group of past and present employees of the Earnhold Global Health Institute in Mount Sinai, New York City, and in April 2019, gender, age, and racism. I sued. Some claims have been rejected, while others are moving forward. Safo’s allegations focus on suspicion of sexism, but as a black woman, she said that race and sexism are intertwined. Since filing her proceeding, she has heard from many people who have similar stories.

Adeumi’s claim does not surprise her: “That’s what many of us have experienced first hand,” she said.

Safo added that his remarks were “terrible”, endangering his career and losing friendship. But she feels proved by the change. Last year, the New York City Council passed a bill to establish an advisory board to investigate racism and sexism in hospitals.

At the request of Wellstar, who quoted confidential information, the judge sealed the proceedings in Adeumi and some of the proceedings in the proceedings. The following explanation of what happened comes from an interview with Adewumi and a complaint he filed with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in July, which gave him permission to sue.

Adewumi signed in March 2018 to lead a neurosurgery service at Wellstar Cobb Hospital in Austell, Georgia. Since the hospital had no neurosurgeon for 10 years, he referred the patient elsewhere, including Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, where Adewumi’s supervisor worked.

When his practice began to flourish, Adewumi felt that his boss was targeting him “with the intention of undermining my skills as a doctor and driving me out of the group.” ..

In November 2018, Adeumi began receiving “letter of inquiry” regarding her surgery. These anonymous letters can be submitted by members of the medical staff or triggered by patient complaints. It will be reviewed by the hospital’s medical executive committee. ..

At first, Adeumi said he didn’t know what the letter was. But within eight months he received 15, but all but one was submitted by his colleague.

According to EEOC complaints, individual independent reviews requested by hospitals and Adewumi lawyers found that concerns were due to disagreements about approaches and surgical procedures rather than patient care standards and safety. I did.

In contrast, Adewumi said a white colleague was aware of at least two cases of unnecessary surgery or leaving the patient unwell. He does not believe that they received a letter of inquiry or were disciplined in any way.

After failing to repair his relationship with his boss, Adeumi said he had climbed the chain to raise concerns, and hospital system executives suggested he might have resigned. Being overwhelmed by his proposal, Adewumi refused to quit.

Wellstar then proposed an “action plan.” It didn’t mean to be disciplinary, but he was told that it would help “better integrate” him into a major group of neurosurgeons at Wellster Kenneston Hospital.

Several black doctors in Georgia and elsewhere spoke to AP News, saying that the hospital hierarchy and competition in which surgeons are evaluated and compensated based on productivity is not preferred or expert He said he could be targeted if recognized as a threat. Racial prejudice can exacerbate it, they said.

Adeumi suspects that’s what happened to him. Prior to arriving at Wellster, he conducted two fellowships on the spine and brain tumors, learning difficult techniques that no one else in the neurosurgery group could. In addition, his presence at Wellstar Cobb meant that his colleagues at Wellstar Kennestone were no longer referred to lucrative surgery.

At the Action Plan Check-in Meeting in August 2019, the leader of the Medical Executive Committee praised Adewumi’s progress. Two months later, on October 8, he was fired “for no reason.” He was convinced that “nothing was wrong” as he was fired because “a particular relationship was not fostered.”

His dismissal came into effect at the end of the 180-day notice period in April 2020, during which time he was neither required nor permitted to work in the hospital. That is, he was unable to meet the six-week “mentorship” requirement and his action plan remained incomplete.

In March 2020, when the coronavirus began to burden the hospital, he emailed Wellstar’s administrator and offered to return temporarily to assist. He thought the hospital could use extra hands to complete his action plan and resolve his situation without him complaining. But Wellster refused.

Due to his incomplete action plan, the hospital refused to give him a “good letter”, could not find a hospital to trust him, and he could not work as a neurosurgeon.

“They hunted him down and effectively locked him out,” Hoffler said. This is intentional and intentional, which is why the proceedings are pending. “