‘I Was Devastated,’ Black Pregnant Woman Recalls Being Accused of Fraud By White Nurse In Philly Clinic

‘I Was Devastated,’ Black Pregnant Woman Recalls Being Accused of Fraud By White Nurse In Philly Clinic

The Black woman who went viral filming the discrimination she faced from a white nurse is opening up about the traumatic experience.

The woman, identified as Jillian, recalled going to the Philly Pregnancy Center in Norristown, Pennsylvania, while she was seven months pregnant and experiencing pain and other complications, Today Parents reports. Jillian was seeking a doctor’s note that would allow her to begin her maternity leave from her job as a home health aide.

But she captured when a white nurse questioned and harassed the pregnant mother about requesting the note.

“What were you thinking about when you got pregnant? That you were not going to work?” the nurse asked Jillian in the clinic’s lobby while waiting to receive her doctor’s note.

“Because I had three kids. I worked up until the second they were born.”

“I was thinking about having a kid,” Jillian, 25, also a mom to a 3-year-old daughter, told the nurse.

@auntkaren0 #duet with @goddess_jay_ #philly #tdwhbwwh #pregnancy ♬ original sound – Jillian

The heated discussion escalated after the nurse accused Jillian of fraud.

“It’s not fraud — if it was fraud, the doctor wouldn’t be getting me my note right now,” Jillian responds. “How do you know how I feel? How do you know how my body feels inside?”

The encounter sparked outrage across social media from many who said the incident highlights the implicit bias many Black women face in medical settings.

“This is how Black women experience maternal mortality at such high rates,” one person wrote on Twitter. “And, why is this nurse second guessing the doctor? Furthermore, what business is it of this nurse IF the patient doesn’t want to work during her pregnancy?”

Speaking on the incident, Jillian says it wasn’t the first time she experienced discriminatory behavior from the nurse identified as nurse practitioner Theresa Smigo.

“Our first interaction was a little bit shaky,” Jillian recalled. “I gave her the benefit of the doubt.”

“I just kind of overlooked certain things, like the way she was like speaking to me.”

Over time, Jillian, who is Muslim, said she started to feel like Smigo’s behavior was related to Jillian’s race and religious background.

“I felt like it was all racial because of my ethnic background and also maybe because of my religious background — all of it,” Jillian explained.

“I just felt like it was definitely discrimination.”

The Norristown Police Department confirmed a staff member of the clinic called the police department on Oct. 6 as the incident escalated. In the end, the police advised Jillian and Smigo to avoid future contact.

“I was devastated. I was really upset,” Jillian recalled about her interaction with the police.

“My heart was pounding like the baby’s kicking. I was so upset. And I just kept on asking them, ‘Why are you guys here? Why did you guys feel the need to come here?’… Because, like, you could look at me and see I’m not — I don’t want to hurt nobody.”

The Philly Pregnancy Center says an investigation is underway, and Smigo is not an employee of the center but an independent, per diem contractor.