Black men suspended from Southgate nursing home amid investigation into patient's sexual assault

Black male employees' suspensions amid sexual assault investigation at nursing home have some crying discrimination

Author: Roger Weber, Local 4 Reporter, @RogerWLocal4, rogerw@wdiv.com
Published On: Oct 11 2012 05:13:47 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 11 2012 06:41:48 PM EDT
Southgate Manor nursing home
SOUTHGATE, Mich. -

Reggie Hartsfield A patient at the Southgate Manor said a black man sexually assaulted her.

Though the man's description was vague, the nursing home suspended five or six black male employees while an investigation is pending. Some have questioned the decision. Callers on WCHB talk radio reacted angrily.

"That's discrimination flat out because you're targeting black males," said one caller.

"Being a black male, I understand how it feels and looks," said the nursing home president, Reggie Hartsfield. "Anyone with contact with the patient we have to suspend. It's a precautionary measure to keep residents safe."

Hartsfield said Michigan state rules require the home to prevent further abuse during such an investigation.

"I can't talk about the case, but think about what we do for a living. Some have Alzheimer's. Whether cognitive or not, we have to do an investigation," Hartsfield said.

He said not all black male workers were given paid leave, only those who were in contact with the patient.

"All of the employees that were suspended were brought back to work and brought back to work in a 24-hour period," Hartsfield said.

However, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan calls the suspensions offensive and potentially illegal.

" ... precautions could and should be made to ensure the safety of residents without stigmatizing all African American employees with the ugliest of stereotypes," said ACLU spokeswoman Rana Elmir in a statement.

It's not known whether any of the suspended workers are complaining. The allegation of the sexual assault is still under investigation by the state of Michigan and Southgate police.

Southgate Manor has 100 beds and about 125 workers.

Patient's daughter says she was concerned about mother's medication

On Wednesday, the daughter of the patient who said she was assaulted spoke to Local 4. She said her mother told her about a sexual assault. The daughter then reported it to the nursing home staff not because she believed it happened but because she was concerned about her mother's Alzheimer's and whether she was getting the correct medication.

Nursing homes are required to report any suspected abuse to police.

Southgate Manor nursing home 2
-- The Southgate Manor is on Trenton Road near Eureka Road in Southgate.