INDIANAPOLIS – Certified nursing assistant Brenda Chaney was on duty in an Indiana nursing home one day when she discovered a patient lying on the floor, unable to stand.
But Chaney couldn’t help the woman up. She had to search for a white aide because the woman had left instructions that she did not want any black caregivers. And the nursing home insisted it was legally bound to honor the request.
The episode, which led to a recent federal court ruling that Chaney’s civil rights had been violated, has brought to light a little known consequence of the patients’ rights movement that swept the nation’s health care system over the last two decades.
Elderly patients, who won more legal control over their quality of life in nursing homes, sometimes want to dictate the race of those who care for them. And some nursing homes enforce those preferences in their staff policies.