Karen Dresser is white. Her 12-year-old daughter, Amelia, is black. When the two showed up at an emergency clinic in Maryland last month, Dresser said, her daughter was denied treatment because staff members assumed they weren’t related.
“At first, I was just numb. I was in disbelief, actually,” Dresser told WJLA News. “We are a family in every sense of the word.”
Dresser, a 51-year-old schoolteacher, said her daughter, whom she adopted in 2007, had previously been treated at the Patient First urgent-care clinic in Waldorf. But when she took her daughter there on Sept. 19 with what they suspected was a broken finger, she said she was met with skepticism.
“A receptionist asked if I were her guardian and I interpreted that as ‘parent,’ so I said yes,” Dresser told Yahoo Lifestyle. “But it became clear that she didn’t believe me.”
According to the mom, the receptionist remained unconvinced, even after she explained the clinic has a file on her daughter. The receptionist insisted that Dresser show proof of guardianship, she said.
Dresser said a nurse did eventually come out and suggest she purchase a splint for her daughter at Walgreens. Instead, Dresser said, she took Amelia to a nearby clinic, where she was treated without question.
Later, Dresser shared a Facebook post about the ordeal, saying she wasn’t sure whether to “be ticked or cry.”
The mother also wrote a letter to Patient First, which she shared on Facebook:
“As a Caucasian woman, I understand that there are places where people might feel obligated to ensure that we are related. 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.”
Patient First sent KRON 4 News a statement with its side of the story:
“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.”
Patient First, a mid-Atlantic chain of urgent-care clinics, also apologized to Dresser, Atlanta Black Star reported.
Still, Dresser Told Yahoo Lifestyle she believes the incident was “racist and discriminatory.”
“We live in a very diverse county with all types of families,” she said. “We’ve never experienced anything like this.”