Dallas Anti-Gay Nurse Fired After Social Media Campaigns
After an ongoing investigation, the Dallas Veterans Association Medical Center recently fired a nurse practitioner for allegedly making anti-gay remarks to a lesbian veteran, Change.org reported in a press release.
Nearly 20,000 people joined a campaign on Change.org, a website that aims to promote social change by the use of online petitions, which urged hospital officials to take action against the nurse.
Former Marine Lance Corporal Esther Garatie was a patient at the medical center and undergoing treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Lincy Pandithurai, a nurse practitioner, allegedly told Garatie that she was depressed and suicidal because she is a lesbian.
"She sat down and looked at me, and her first question was, 'Are you a lesbian?'" Garatie said in a personal statement written that was published by the Dallas Voice. "Her second question to me was, 'Have you asked God into your heart? Have you been saved by Jesus Christ?'"
After the disturbing comments, Garatie talked to her friend Jessica Gerson, a social work graduate student, about the incident. In Oct. 2011, to support Garatie, Gerson took to the social media website, Change.org, and created a campaign asking for Pandithurai to be fired. It only took a few weeks for the campaign to garner thousands of outraged supporters, the Dallas Voice reported.
"It's reassuring for me and for the thousands of people who stood with Esther to know that the Dallas VA Medical Center takes allegations like this seriously," Gerson said. "But more importantly, gay and lesbian veterans like my friend Esther should feel comforted that the VA system has become a little more safe and accepting thanks to the removal of this homophobic nurse."
Several people commented on the petition showing their support for Garatie.
"Ms. Pandithurai is in the wrong profession. She should teach Sunday school, and let real nurses address real health problems in the right way," one commenter wrote.
"I am signing this petition because this isn't the first time this has happened, and I can't stand by and let this happen to someone else, again," another supporter said.
Once the VA and hospital officials finished their investigation they announced that they would release Pandithurai later this month.
"The board was able to substantiate material portions of the veteran's claims," Monica Smith, a spokeswoman for the VA Medical Center said. "VA North Texas Health Care System will continue to provide an environment where veterans can receive the physical and emotional healing that they desire and deserve.
"As such, we remain committed to respecting diversity and providing the best possible care to all veterans. Our commitment to equal rights remains strong as we practice our core values of integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence. Ms. Pandithurai will retire from federal service effective January 21, 2012."