Two years ago a black female doctor responded to a medical emergency on a flight and Delta flight attendants rejected the help, not believing she could be a doctor.
She got a response she wasn’t prepared for.
“Oh no, sweetie, put [your] hand down,” Cross recalled the flight attendant saying. “We are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel, we don’t have time to talk to you.”
The reason behind the flight attendant’s apparent skepticism? Cross says it was because she is black.
At the time Delta said it ‘didn’t reflect their culture’. Delta apologized and assured that they had changed their policies to prevent this from happening again. Delta flight attendants were no longer supposed to insist on medical credentials.
Except it happened again. Flight attendants insisted on seeing credentials. And then didn’t believe the credentials of a black female instructor at Harvard Medical School.
[Dr.] Stanford said she was already aiding the passenger when a flight attendant came by to check the situation. According to Stanford, the flight attendant asked if she was a doctor, to which Stanford replied yes.
Stanford said she continued to stabilize the passenger when a second flight attendant came to ask for her medical license. Stanford showed the flight attendant her license. Stanford said that shortly afterward both flight attendants came back and questioned her credentials and asked if the medical license she was carrying belonged to her.
@delta I am very disappointed that your policies on #Diversity have not lead to any change. As a #blackwoman #doctor who showed my #medical license to help a passenger on DL5935 your #flightattendant still did not believe I was a #Physician. @DrSinhaEsq @DrKathyHughes
— Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, FAAP, FACP (@fstanfordmd) October 31, 2018
This was a Delta Connection flight from New York LaGuardia to Charlotte. It was operated by Republic Airlines with an Embraer ERJ-175. It carries a Delta flight number — DL5953 — and the aircraft flies with Delta livery. If the procedures Delta put into place two years ago apply only to their mainline aircraft this points to a problem with how they manage their regional affiliates, I think. To the customer this is Delta and it apparently does reflect the Delta culture they’re experiencing.
Naturally Delta was concerned to learn about the incident.
I am so sorry for your frustration Dr. Stanford. Please know that Delta does not condone discrimination for any reason and we take your comments very seriously. We are looking into further and will be reaching out to you directly. HTD
— Delta (@Delta) October 31, 2018
They need to ensure though that their customers are treated the same way on all of their flights, regional and mainline, and that includes equal respect for medical professionals who respond to other passengers in need.