SHREVEPORT, La. -- Employees at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center are demanding answers after a racially offensive display was found in the hospital.
Chandra Baker is chapter president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents support staff at the VA. She shared photos of what appears to be a brown horse or donkey doll with KTBS. The doll’s feet are bound and it is hanging by its neck from a cabinet.
Baker said the display was found Friday in a lounge used by residents, fellows and interns. She said the room requires a code for entry.
"We got several emails (Monday) saying how (employees) are fearful to come to work, how they don't know if they can trust anyone -- if they can speak to anyone," Baker said.
“I was wondering, how are they going to come to work beside their coworkers wondering, ‘Were you the one that did this?" said Cassandra Buckhanan, chapter president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, which represents doctors and nurses at the hospital.
In a written statement, a spokesman for Overton Brooks said, “Conduct such as this is never acceptable and flies in the face of our personal and organizational values. The individual responsible has been identified, and the person, who was not a VA employee or a Veteran, is no longer welcome here. Additionally, we contacted the Office of Inspector General (OIG), and a formal investigation continues.”
Both Baker and Buckhanan question the findings because the doll was found in an area inaccessible to non-employees. They have asked hospital administrators for a full briefing of their investigation.
"Not focusing on the real issue here -- it creates tension, hostility, and there's going to be something one day that we can't turn from.” Baker said. “So we need for this to be addressed, and we need transparency."