A white mother in Maryland is outraged after an urgent care facility that refused to treat her adopted Black daughter because she couldn’t prove she was the parent.
Karen Dresser, 51, said “racist and discriminatory” practices were at play when she brought Amelia to the Patient First health clinic in Waldorf, Md. on Sept. 19 for a possible broken finger, Yahoo Lifestyle reports
Although Dresser adopted 12-year-old Amelia in 2007, she’s lived with her since she was a newborn.
Dresser said she’s been to the urgent care facility various times throughout Amelia’s life, but this one time, a misunderstanding of her role as Amelia’s actual parent, got in the way of getting much-needed treatment.
“When we arrived, a receptionist asked if I were her guardian and I interpreted that as ‘parent,’ so I said yes,” Dresser tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
“But it became clear that she didn’t believe me.”
When Dresser said Amelia’s medical records were already on file, a rep replied: “You should have brought guardianship documentation, which we need in order to treat your daughter.”
The clinic sent a statement to San Fransisco local news station KRON 4:
“During registration, if a minor patient is accompanied by an adult who states that they are the patient’s parent, we take them at their word. If the adult states that they are the child’s guardian, we require documentation to confirm that before the patient can be registered.”
Dresser said she tried to no avail to explain that she was Amelia’s mom. She said she wasn’t even asked to show the health insurance card, which proves that she shares the same last name.
A medical rep did come over and do a “quick check” of Amelia’s finger and told Dresser to purchase a splint at Walgreens.
Dresser left and drive to another urgent care clinic where she was treated.
Dresser took to Facebook to share her experience and she said she emailed a complaint letter to Patient First.
“As a Caucasian woman, I understand that there are places where people might feel obligated to ensure that we are related,” Dresser wrote on Facebook. “However, one of those places is certainly not an urgent care facility where I am using my family’s insurance to pay for medical treatment. My child has medical insurance with our surname listed on it. I had my license…if I had a white daughter, would they expect me to carry a birth certificate on my person? No, they would not have discriminated against us.”
Dresser continued, “This violation of patient care rights is absolutely unacceptable. As a schoolteacher and conscientious human being, I know better than to make verbal assumptions about families. The people at your facility made an assumption about my family that was most certainly based on race. At a minimum, your employees need to have immediate and intense sensitivity training.”
Dresser said Patient First sent a letter apologizing but it wasn’t enough.
“I wish they had admitted to handling the situation incorrectly,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We live in a very diverse county with all types of families. We’ve never experienced anything like this.”