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UM doctor suing after being terminated from executive role at hospital

Oct 24, 2016

After being tipped off by a hospital chaplain that it seemed like hospital security was called more for black patients then white patients, Dr. Carmen Green decided to look into it.

In December 2014, Green was as the head of the Office for Healthcare Equity and Inclusion (OHEI) at the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS). Green filed a report to the then-acting CEO of UMHS Anthony Denton. According to the report, “More requests (to call security) were made for black patients/visitors then would be expected by their representation in the overall patient census.”

(You can read the report here.)

Green studied instances where hospital security was called to “stand by." She looked at data from such instances from 2006 to 2014.

Black patients made up roughly 12% of all total patients in those years. White patients made up about 79% of the total patient population. In her report, Green suggests that security “stand-by” calls should somewhat reflect those same percentages.

But it’s not the case. According to Green’s study, about 24% of security calls were responding to black patients, and about 66% of calls were responding to white patients.

Green filed the report December 12, 2014. She was fired the following month.

Green has now filed a civil lawsuit against the university scheduled for trial December 5. Green’s attorney Jim Fett is making the case she was fired in retaliation for filing the report that found evidence of racial bias.

Fett argues Dr. Green was fired to suppress the findings of her report, which detailed racial bias within the healthcare system, and would have looked "bad for business."

But UMHS officials say Green’s termination had nothing to do with the findings of her report. A statement from university officials says Green was fired because “she repeatedly violated the U-M Health System Code of Conduct and the university’s Professional Standards for Faculty in her interactions with team members whom she supervised.”

Mlive reports UMHS administrators were at first concerned about high turnover within the OHEI under Green’s leadership, and fired Green because of the findings of an internal “climate assessment survey” at the OHEI.

The survey, conducted in the fall of 2014, was intended to assess employee morale and feelings about leadership in Green’s department. Employees were able to respond anonymously with complaints or concerns about the workplace atmosphere.

Officials from the university were not available for comment besides the written statement. But Fett says the findings from the climate assessment are being used as a smokescreen.

"The U of M couldn't give a whit about that survey," Fett said. "They got the thing on November 7 and didn't bother talking to her about it until December 17. Well, if it was so damn important why do you wait (40) days before you say anything?"

The conclusion of the "climate assessment," made available through court records by Fett’s law office, is dated November 7. It says, in part, that faculty and staff in OHEI “feel their work environment needs improvement.”

According to Fett, Green knew that the climate assessment report was ongoing in the fall of 2014. However, Fett says Green wasn’t privy to the climate assessment report’s findings until the evening of December 16.

According to Mlive, the university’s summary disposition request in the lawsuit states that by the time Green filed her report on December 12, Denton had met with other hospital officials to “explore options for appropriate institutional response to concerns raised for regarding Dr. Green’s ineffective management of professional staff and faculty colleagues.”

As for the findings of racial bias, the university statement says, “While we cannot confirm the conclusions reached by Dr. Green, the information that OHEI gathered already has helped implement educational interventions to address unconscious or implicit bias, teach de-escalation skills and to promote partnerships with the hospital’s social work and spiritual care departments.”

University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen was able to confirm that workshops designed to address implicit bias began in June – nearly two years after Green’s initial report – and have been ongoing weekly since.