Doctor Fatima Stanford noticed that the passenger sitting next to her on a Republic Airlines flight was feeling ill, so she tried to help, but her qualifications were questioned.
As Boston 25 reported, Stanford practices obesity medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and is a teacher at Harvard Medical School. However, two flight attendants refused to believe that she was “really a doctor.”
When the passenger next to Stanford started shaking and hyperventilating, she presented her medical license to a flight attendant to provide the person with medical assistance.
After looking at it for a while, the flight attendant walked to the back of the plane and another member of the staff approached Stanford.
She asked her for her license again and read it in detail. The flight attendant said, “I just talked with the first flight attendant and she said you're not really a doctor, you're just a head doctor.”
Stanford couldn’t believe what was happening. Both flight attendants questioned her identity and qualifications while Stanford was doing her best to calm down the passenger.
The patient told the doctor that she had a panic attack after feeling claustrophobic in the plane, so Stanford started a conversation to distract her.
Stanford later pointed out that she considered her medical qualifications were questioned because she was black, and she took to Twitter to express her discomfort.
Tagging Delta Airlines, which is the connection carrier of Republic Airlines, she said that the incident was “100 percent” racially biased, adding that “Black Women Doctors do exist.”
Soon after Stanford shared those tweets, Delta replied, saying that they were sorry for her frustration and that the airline didn’t condone discrimination for any reason.
Finally, the tweet set clear that they were investigating and that they would reach out directly to Stanford. Later, they released a statement addressing the incident.
“We thank Dr. Stanford for her medical assistance and are sorry for any misunderstanding that may have occurred during her exchange with the in-flight crew. According to the flight crew’s account, they initially misread the credentials offered by the doctor and went to reconfirm her specific medical discipline. We are following up with the crew to ensure proper policy is followed.”
While uncommon, it was not the first time that a black female doctor was questioned about her medical qualifications on a Delta flight. Tamika Cross was flying home in October 2016 when a man fell ill, so the flight attendants asked for any doctor’s help.
When Cross offered herself, a flight attendant dismissed her saying that they were looking for actual “physicians or nurses.” Thankfully, that experience made Delta change its policy.
They no longer require medical professionals to show their credentials before assisting passengers. However, flight attendants in Stanford’s flight didn’t pay attention to that policy.
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