Several days ago, a Philadelphia-area black woman took TikTok, social media, and even mainstream news by storm with a video account of her highly unpleasant and unfortunate, if not downright racist interaction with a white midlevel nurse practitioner (since identified as Theresa Smigo) as a patient at a local pregnancy clinic, the Philly Pregnancy Center.
NP Smigo: What were you thinking about when you got pregnant, that you were not going to work? I'm just curious, because I had three kids and I worked up until the second they were born.
Jillian: But am I you? Are you me? Do you know how I feel? --
NP Smigo: Well yeah, that's why I'm asking! I'm interested in how you think. I want to know what your mind said. So when you got pregnant, what were you thinking about?
Jillian: I...I was thinking about having a kid. I'm...I'm confused on where you're going with it.
NP Smigo: I'm confused too, because you came in here and I did an assessment and gave you my best medical advice, and you didn't like that.
Jillian: But I just said that I wanted a note, so that I could take it easy, these next two months.
Several more rounds of verbal sparring ensue, with NP Smigo alleging that the things in Jillian's chart aren't true. Jillian asks NP Smigo exactly how she knows how it feels for her to be pregnant, to which she responds, "Because I checked her cervix".
It doesn't take a residency-trained, board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist to realize that a bimanual cervical exam is in no way shape or form a useful or appropriate method of determining how a woman who's seven months pregnant feels, or how much pain she might be in.
Even more jaw-dropping, however, is the response that Philly Pregnancy Center gave to multiple individuals and entities who called out NP Smigo's horrifically unprofessional behavior. Notwithstanding the fact that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Office for Civil Rights is probably salivating over the blatant HIPAA violation that this excessively lengthy response with specific patient details likely constitutes, it's never a good look for a healthcare organization to double down on your asshole nurse practitioner's "professional opinion" that "there is NO indication" for a pregnant woman, in pain no less, to be excused from work. What the fuck?
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the patient/Jillian has already lawyered up (as she certainly should); it is certainly our hope that she proceeds to sue the maternity underwear off of midlevel NP Theresa Smigo and the Philly Pregnancy Center. In the post-Roe v. Wade landscape of an America that has historically marginalized black and brown patients in healthcare, particularly when it comes to treating pain and reducing maternal mortality rates, the mistreatment of black patients like Jillian by white midlevel nurse practitioners like Theresa Smigo cannot go unexcused or unpunished.