An employee of Saint Luke’s East Hospital who posted photos of herself and another person in blackface is no longer employed, the hospital said Tuesday.
The hospital became aware of the photos on Monday, after which the “information was shared with appropriate health system personnel and an investigation was initiated immediately,” Laurel Gifford, senior director of media relations at Saint Luke’s, said in a statement.
“While it is against Saint Luke’s policy to comment on specific personnel matters, we can confirm that this individual is no longer a Saint Luke’s employee.”
On Monday, the hospital responded to Facebook user Lynese Sade, who complained about the nurse and wrote that “I do not feel that it is safe having a racist employee working with the public.”
The hospital responded to Sade: “... Saint Luke’s is always committed to providing the highest level of care and treating all our patients with dignity and respect and this does not fit with the core values of our organization. We are currently investigating the matter further. Thank you again.”
KCUR published a screenshot of a photo allegedly from Shelbi Elliott-Heenan’s Facebook page that shows a man and woman in costume. The photo is marked “Jay Z and Beyonce,” and the woman is wearing dark makeup.
Gifford told McClatchy earlier Tuesday morning that the incident is “being taken very seriously and addressed at the highest level.”
“Saint Luke’s is deeply committed to our culture of diversity and inclusion. It is fundamental to who we are as an organization and we vigorously protect it on behalf of all our patients and employees and expect those who represent us to do the same.” she said in a later statement.
McClatchy has also reached out to Elliott-Heenan and Sade for comment. Late Tuesday morning, Elliott-Heenan’s Facebook page appeared to have been deleted.
The incident comes just days after NBC “Today” host Megyn Kelly lost her job after she made controversial comments defending blackface.
“Back when I was a kid, (blackface) was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character,” Kelly said on the Oct. 23 show, according to USA Today.
And in Iowa, the Davenport School District is investigating reports that one of its elementary school teachers wore blackface to a Halloween party.
Art Tate, superintendent of the Davenport School District in Iowa, told the Quad-City Times in an email that first-grade teacher Megan Luloff is under investigation for showing up to a Halloween party on Friday with a face painted black to look like Lafawnduh, a black character from the movie “Napoleon Dynamite.”