A couple of days ago I wrote a post where I talked about my friend George Chapman and his unique idea, which I still think is a pretty good idea, on a health care plan.

We talked about a lot of things, and one thing in particular came up. I was saying to him how I can't seem to break into my own local market when it comes to health care, that I always am working out of town and can't even get local people to talk to me; at least those who are responsible for making the decisions that apply to things I do.

He was saying that he talks to some of these people on a regular basis, and one of the things they're always talking about is there not being enough minorities in skilled positions that they can interview and hire, and that he can't believe I would have problems in that area. I looked at him and said "George, you're not that naive, are you?"

Without calling out specific hospitals in my area, let me give some history here. When I worked at this one hospital years ago, I got the position, entry level, only because I was a black male. Back then, there were almost no black males working in the hospital at all except in housekeeping positions. I was an anomaly, plain and simple. More than 25 years later, there still aren't many black males at this hospital, and the same goes for black females outside of housekeeping and food services. There are more nurses, but when you get to the skilled positions, my wife is pretty much it.

There's another big hospital near this hospital. It's got a reputation as a place where minorities are wasting their time trying to get a job at. How true is this rumor? I have my own story. Twice within a 5 year period I went to that hospital to try to get an interview for a position I knew was open. Twice I walked in with a resume. Twice I walked out without even being allowed to fill out an application. I was told by the person who took my resume that if they were interested they'd call me and have me come back to fill out an application. Where else does that happen in business when there's a position open? My friend George used to work for this particular hospital, and he said that was hard to believe; I told him that's just how it is.

One other hospital in this area just did the same sort of thing to my wife. They actually called her and said they needed some emergency help, and could she give them a hand. She decided to do it for a few dollars, and went there. Before they would let her touch a single patient, however, they said she had to have a full physical. Folks, she works at a hospital, and these hospitals are in negotiations with each other right now talking about a possible merger. After that, they told her that she was going to have to provide a lot of proof about her skills and background before they could use her again, but that it would be okay for the first day. Remember, they called her and asked her to come; she didn't apply for a job there. Later on, she asked some other people about these requirements that were put on her, and she was told that none of the other people had ever been asked for any of that stuff, and that it didn't make sense, especially since they called her, at her hospital, to request her assistance. Now, if she had to do some things that no one else has ever been asked to do, and there's no other reasons for it...

There's only two hospitals in the area where this type of racism doesn't seem to occur. In both of these hospitals, the people running human resources are minority. In both instances, this doesn't guarantee that minorities will get a job. What it guarantees, though, is that everyone will be treated fairly, and if qualified will get a job if one is open for them. People know that, and these two hospitals get most of the applicants. Both of these facilities have a proven track record that people will be given a fair chance, and have been hired.

As I said, it's subtle, in a way. In another way, it's not so subtle, because the points have been felt, and acted upon. As for myself, I continue to market myself to these and all other hospitals because it makes some sense to do so. But I know where I stand, so I don't count on it locally, as far as hospitals are concerned. And I think that's a shame; we really haven't gone as far as Dr. King would have hoped after all.