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Michigan Hospital Tells Black Nurses Not to Touch White Patient

Update Date: Jul 25, 2013 05:53 PM EDT

Two African American nursing home employees in Michigan are accusing the medical care facility where they work of stopping them from working with a white patient who refused to be cared for by black people.

The Shiawassee County Medical Care Facility had allegedly barred the nursing assistants from working with the white patient, according to TV5.

"I've] never, ever been treated like this before. It hurts, it really hurts, especially because I'm there to take care of them," Nursing assistant Andrea Butler told reporters.

Butler added that she was told that she could not work with the patient in front of other staff and residents in the care home.

The resident who refused to be cared for by African American nursing home employees had complained of being bruised by a black employee. However, the patient later admitted that the story was not true. Butler claims that the situations are very similar.

Nurse Tonya Battle has also spoken out about the case. Battle claims that she was told by her employers at Hurley Medical Center in Michigan that she couldn't work with a newborn at the request of the child's Caucasian parents.

"It's outrageous that a medical facility would grant this request, especially on the heels of the battle against Hurley Medical Center case, that there was a public outcry that a patient's request based on race would be granted," Battle said, according to the Daily Mail.

"In my legal opinion, a patient cannot request somebody to not work with them based on race. This is clearly illegal under federal law, I believe it's illegal under state law as well," she said.

When reporters at TV5 approached the hospital, facility administrator Rick Cordonnier defended the hospital's decision.

"We are protecting staff members from potential allegations," he said, adding that the hospital needs to respect patient requests for their care. He said the hospital would treat the situation the same if patients did not want someone of the opposite gender caring for them.

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