Amelia Dresser (268807)

A legal case is brewing in Maryland after a white woman’s 12-year-old Black (adopted) child was denied health care at a medical clinic. According to the, Karen Dresser claims her and her daughter Amelia faced what she called “blatant racism” while trying to get medical attention for her daughter. Multiple employees at Patient First in Waldorf, Md. did not believe that Amelia was her daughter during a Sept. 19 visit, and refused to let the 12-year-old child be seen without proper documentation, according to Dresser, who posted about the experience on Facebook.

Her daughter was injured, and she was in pain from a jammed finger, according to the Facebook post. Dresser took her to Patient First, but they never got the chance to see a doctor. Dresser said when she tried to check in, a “clerk and her supervisor” told her that she needed to produce guardianship papers for Amelia to be treated, even though Dresser said her daughter has been “seen there repeatedly over the past 12 years.” The clerk asked her if she was Amelia’s guardian, not her mother, and Dresser replied she was. Dresser was then asked to produce guardianship papers, but she did not have them with her. She was then told that was required for the child to be seen by a doctor, according to the Facebook post. “At first, I was just numb,” Dresser said, WJLA reported. “I was in disbelief actually.”

In a statement, Patient First wrote, “During registration, if a minor patient is accompanied by an adult who states that they are the patient’s parent, we take them at their word. If the adult states that they are the child’s guardian, we require documentation to confirm that before patient can be registered,” KRON reported. When the feelings began to register, Dresser said she was still uncertain how to react. “I don’t know if I should be ticked or cry,” Dresser posted on Facebook. Feeling that she might have been the victim of discrimination, Dresser reached out in another Facebook post to see if anyone else had similar experiences at that urgent care facility.

The overwhelming majority had not, which fueled a fire in the mother, who said her daughter witnessed the encounter and was never asked to show an insurance card — which Dresser reported had matching surnames. After airing her grievances on social media, Dresser emailed Patient First’s corporate parent. In the e-mailed letter Dresser shared on Facebook, she wrote “my daughter and I were treated with what can only be blatant racism. The two clerks that were working with us told me that because I did not carry guardianship papers they would not allow my daughter to be seen by a doctor. If I had a white daughter, would they expect me to carry a birth certificate on my person? No, they would not have discriminated against us.” She continued, “The people at your facility made an assumption about my family that was most certainly based on race. At a minimum, your employees need to have immediate and intense sensitivity training.” The corporate office apologized after receiving the message from Dresser, who said “I think people out there need to understand that families come in all shapes and sizes and that it’s important to respect all families,” WJLA reported.