Hospital’s DEI Training Implied Racial Bias Is Killing Black Mothers, Former Nurse Says
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A registered nurse who says he was fired for lightly pushing back on controversial DEI training at his hospital alleged that the training implied white nurses’ racial bias was contributing to black maternal deaths.

Brad McDowell wrote his story in The Wall Street Journal, alleging his former employer, Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, Maryland, required employees to take DEI courses in an effort to reduce the disparity between black and white maternal deaths.

“Overall, the course implied that white nurses like me are killing black mothers,” McDowell wrote. “I was supposed to internalize this message and somehow apply it to the management of my team.”

McDowell also alleged that the training course, called Breaking Inequality Reimagining Transformative Healthcare (B.I.R.T.H) Equity Maryland, provided “evidence-free claims that implicit bias has caused a crisis of maternal mortality in black women.” He added that the “course ignored the complex factors that contribute to higher black maternal mortality, including comorbidities, while defining any death from any cause after a year of giving birth as maternal mortality – a logical stretch.”

The B.I.R.T.H Equity Maryland website does not include any training materials that suggest racial bias is to blame for black maternal deaths. The Maryland Patient Safety Center, which provides the training, told The Daily Wire in an email that McDowell’s participation in the program was limited, and said it didn’t place blame on any particular factor as the cause of black maternal mortality.

“The nurse in question did not fully participate in B.I.R.T.H. Equity Maryland, and thus his understanding may be limited,” the MPSC said in the email. “The program teaches learners to recognize emergent signs of severe maternal morbidity and mortality, implement improvements in protocols, identify whether or how potential bias might play a part in care, and have tools to effectively communicate concerns for a patient’s wellbeing. The training and resources provided do not focus on a singular blame for the racial disparity in maternal deaths, but offer solutions for caregivers in Emergency Departments or non-hospital settings when patients present with pregnancy-related complications.”

After attending these courses, McDowell said he was sent materials for more DEI training that insisted the U.S. was built on “an ideology of White supremacy that justifies policies, practices and structures which result in social arrangements of subordination for groups of color through power and White privilege.”

McDowell said he decided “not to spread these hateful messages to the nurses under my supervision,” and didn’t attend the course. He said he wasn’t punished for skipping it, either, but a few weeks later he received an email telling him to register for yet another implicit bias seminar. He again didn’t attend, and again wasn’t punished, he wrote.

McDowell did, however, write on his personal Facebook page, which in no way mentions or links him to the hospital where he works, that “No employer has the right to invade the unconscious spaces of it’s [sic] employees minds in an attempt to reprogram them into thinking certain ways. If your employer signs you up for an ‘Unconscious Bias’ aka ‘Implicit Bias’ training, then they are doing exactly that.”


The day after that Facebook post, McDowell says he received a call from his manager and was told he had been placed on administrative leave. Just a few days later, he was fired and told that it was because of his post and other posts that were “misleading” or “false,” without citing examples. McDowell believes the hospital’s vice president of team member services, who fired him, was referring to an earlier Facebook post in which McDowell said that “corporate healthcare has shifted its focus from patient centered care directives to diversity of the workforce and inclusive excellence training (aka thought reform) for its leaders.”

McDowell has been a registered nurse for 16 years and hopes to find employment elsewhere.

This article has been updated to include comment from the Maryland Patient Safety Center.

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