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Four labor and delivery nurses at an Atlanta hospital have been fired over a viral TikTok video in which they shared the things that annoy, or “ick”, them about expecting mothers and their families.

“My ick is when you come in for your induction, talking about, ‘Can I take a shower and eat?’” one nurse says.

“My ick is when you ask me how much the baby weighs and it’s still in your hands,” a second nurse says.

The nurses at Emory University Hospital Midtown were participating in a popular trend where users share their “icks” or turnoffs about a person. The TikTok trend originally began as a way for someone to describe why they stopped dating another person.

Atlanta’s Emory Hospital Midtown has fired four labor and delivery nurses after they shared their “icks” about maternity patients on TikTok.

— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) December 11, 2022

In the video, another nurse says her “ick” is when the mother says she doesn’t want pain medication “but you are at an eight out of 10 pain.” Another nurse says: “The dad comes outside and asks for a paternity test right outside the room door.”

One of the nurses talks about family members coming up to the nurse’s station “every five minutes” and the father “going room to room between one baby mama and your other baby mama.”

Hi Vanessa. Thank you for sharing your concern. We are aware of the video and it has been shared with our leadership and HR teams for investigation.

— Emory Healthcare (@emoryhealthcare) December 8, 2022

“We have investigated the situation and taken appropriate actions with the former employees responsible for the video,” Emory Healthcare said.

One Instagram user said the video “just showed everyone where NOT to go,” while another person said that childbirth is one of the most vulnerable times for a woman.

Nurses everywhere are feeling burned out

A recent survey from Incredible Health shows 34 percent of nurses want to leave the profession by year’s end; 44 percent cite “high stress and burnout” amid the critical factors in their potential exodus.

These factors often place a strain on facilities trying to maintain their staff, US Labor Dept. officials estimate 275,000 additional nurses will be needed by the end of the decade.

Many Black women have turned to alternative methods of childbirth

In June, New York City began offering free doula access to birthing families in 33 neighborhoods “with the greatest social needs.” The city plans to also train more doulas — trained professionals who provide support to moms before, during, and after childbirth — as part of its Citywide Doula Initiative. The goal is to train 50 doulas and reach 500 families.

Baby Dove has recently expanded their brand’s ongoing commitment to advancing superior care for Black mothers through the Black Birth Equity Fund in a new informative series called #DearDoula. By reinforcing existing strategic partnerships, Baby Dove accelerates the effort to close the significant gap in care and health outcomes for Black mothers and their babies.

Nurses have bias, in particular with Black expecting mothers

Disparities in healthcare are not solely based on health – but care. While Black segregated hospitals of the past may not have had the medical advancements of their White counterparts, the care and attention to its patients were there and it led to better outcomes.

Kanika Harris, Ph.D., M.P.H., Director of Maternal and Child Health at the Black Women’s Health Imperative conducted research with the National Center for Health Statistics. It was found that Black maternal mortality rose significantly during the pandemic — and that Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts.

To combat this public health crisis, the Black Women’s Health Imperative, in partnership with the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, Dr. Harris has released a new study on how racism towards Black patients and nurses during birth experiences affects patient outcomes.

Had my child here. They coerced me into a c section, completely disregarded me when I discussed my pain with them my entire time I went into labor & after delivery/recovery. Only allowed me 800 ibuprofen after a c section…my baby died in care of Emory nurses in the end as well

— yummy p (@slimeyPey) December 11, 2022

“Nurses in the study mentioned hospitals are rewarded when they have less staff on the floor,” Dr. Harris said. Thus, care may not be readily available or at the level to meet a patient’s needs because of reimbursement or bonus incentives to the in-charge nurse or maternity ward.

As a result, “you have a burnt-out staff that are trying to help multiple families and moms that are pregnant, and when you’re tired and burnt out you can’t necessarily process your everyday assumptions and feelings about race.”

Dr. Harris believes in training our own medical staff and midwives for the community we serve would also raise the standard of care for Black mothers. While HBCUs such as Winston Salem State University are well-known for their nursing programs, Dr. Harris states these programs have never had the funding and support to get off the ground at our institutions.

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Dr. Harris cites birthing centers Birth Detroit along with her Washington, D.C. hometown’s Community of Hope, both of which are community-led and signs of progress and renewed hope toward Black maternal health.

Dr. Harris plans to use the study’s findings to inform a POST-BIRTH Warning Signs Program which will reduce maternal mortality across the board.

In a multicultural city like Atlanta where Black and Brown babies are born everyday, a nurse’s effort — and attitude — can be the difference between life and death.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

3 replies on “Emory Hospital maternity nurses fired after TikTok of “icks””

  1. Nurses (of which I am one x 34 years) do not seem to be going into nursing for compassionate reasons anymore. It’s the money. I can’t tell you how many times new grad nurses on nights ignore call lights, telemetry alarms, slow on pain med requests, all while on their phones all shift. The old nurses are dying out. It’s sad.

    1. Exactly Barbara, I have been a nurse for as many years as you. I also find that overall the compassion (and in some cases, respect) is absent with this new generation of nurses. I think also that many enter into the profession for the money. But to be fair I will consider other dynamics such as shortages, nurse students not getting enough patient contact especially with those in online programs. They are checked off on many skills virtually, inadequate preceptor programs (as I’m told), maybe not enough training in the nurse, patient and family dynamics. Some have told me that they have been confronted with situations that they should have been alerted to while in school. I think that the need for nurses have created an atmosphere of pushing student through ill prepared, and allowing those to graduate that does not show the proper attitude for the profession.

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