Houston resident Ethel Easter was set to undergo a hernia surgery at her local county-operated hospital. Prior to scheduling the surgery, Easter met with her appointed surgeon who told her she would have to wait an additional 2 months to schedule surgery. When Easter communicated that she was gravely ill and could not wait 2 months for the procedure the surgeon was abrupt and callous, and disregarded her pain.
Because of the tone of the pre-operative conversation, Easter felt moved to record the surgery. During the procedure she wore a weave that allowed her to easily conceal her audio recording device.
As soon as Easter was put to sleep the disparaging comments began. They ranged from the surgeon noting she was a “handful” to making disturbing references about her body and touching her inappropriately. One member of the operating staff referred to Easter as “Precious”.
“Did you see her belly button?” says a female voice on the tape, followed by laughter.
“Precious meet Precious,” says a male operating room member to the anesthesiologist.
You can hear an OR staff member refer to her as “always the queen.” A surgeon repeats the phrase and says he feels sorry for her husband.
“It was… as though I was this big fat black woman,” Easter said.
You can hear some of the soundbites from the surgery in this video.
While there is no word on what resolution Easter is seeking, a spokesperson for the Harris Health System, which oversees the hospital facility where the surgery was conducted, has informed Easter that this incident will serve to remind staff to “be mindful of their comments all times.” But so far, there have been no apologies.
What would you do if you were in Easter’s position?