Room 37 (“Racial Profiling” at the Hospital)

This morning, my wife and I went to visit a church member who was at the hospital.

We checked in with the front desk, received sticker to let the hospital world know we were visitors, given direction to the parishioner's room, and off we went.

We arrived on the floor where the parishioner was staying and made our way to the nurse's desk to find her room number.

One of the nurses looked at us and before we can say anything, said, “Oh! Room 37. It's to the left. Room 37.”

Puzzled, we started making our way to the room. How did she know who we were looking for?

I looked at our visitor sticker to see if the patient's name was on it. Nope.

The wife asked the nurse, “Hey, how did you know the room we're looking for?”

The nurse just smiled and said, “Room 37.”

I never “dress” like a pastor, so there's no way she knew that I was clergy.

Maybe the parishioner had a lot of visitors today, so she knew we were with her? Whatever the reason, the nurse was pretty darn sure we were looking for the patient in room 37.

We finally arrived to room 37 and peered inside the room (to make sure she wasn't sleeping, as to not disturb her), waiting to see the familiar face of our church member.


Turns out, the occupant of room 37 is an old Asian woman.


That. Happened.

We came back to the nurse's station and the nurse said, “Not who you were looking for?”

“Nope. We're looking for a church member.”

And she went on the apology tour.

I think we could've made it into a big deal. But, we laughed it off. (I really did think it was a bit funny).

Besides, the person we were visiting was transitioning to hospice care, and 1) I didn't want to make a big deal out of this, getting emotionally caught up on her stupidity before seeing our parishioner and 2) in the big picture of things, at least to me — at that moment, it wasn't a big enough deal make it into a big deal.

It's just a bit surprising at the lack of professionalism shown by the nurse.

I mean, really? Is it worth embarrassing yourself and your hospital to assume that the only Asian couple that walked in that day (apparently) is here to visit your (apparently) only Asian patient? Isn't it worth it, again, for the sake of the hospital staff, to wait and see who we were actually looking for before volunteering the room number to visit?

On the way out, I told my wife that the nurse was lucky she made that mistake with us, because we didn't make a big deal out of it. Or the fact that she made that mistake today. We had much bigger things on our plate and much bigger concerns to address than some stupid, idiotic, and racist assumption.

As always, it's just safe to never assume. As the old saying goes, when you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME.

But mostly, you.

One thought on “Room 37 (“Racial Profiling” at the Hospital)

  1. Hello,

    I just stumbled upon this story and just had to ask this question:

    Do you think the nurse was really being racist, or, do you suppose she was just being presumptuous?

    I don’t disagree that it was unprofessional to assume the only Asian patient “belonged” to the only Asian visitors. However, maybe she was just excited that the Asian woman had visitors. I really thought the story was about to turn and the Asian patient wasn’t your church member but maybe she needed a pastor.

    Maybe I was looking for a God story instead of an embarrassing mix up and this is all on me. I’m not trying to be negative or critical or anything like that. The whole story just left me pondering all of them. Peace:)

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