An unheld hand

The nurse did not hold the second patient’s hand.

I watched the nurses. I paid attention as the patients came through their department. I watched the tests, watched the patients, watched the nurses.

I saw the difference.

Everyone was professional. Always. You wouldn’t notice the difference if you were the patient. But the difference was there.

One nurse, white. Two patients, almost in a row, who had a rough time through the test. One patient was white. One patient was black. They held one patient’s hand throughout. The other patient was reassurred, but did not have that physical contact. Guess which patient’s hand was held?

Another nurse, black. It’s almost more subtle until you’re looking for it. One patient was white. One patient was black. They were friendly and smiling with one patient, sharing details of their personal life. The other patient they treated with a professional detachment. Guess which one was which?

I don’t know if either nurse is aware of this. I don’t know how to point this out without provoking defensive reactions. And I want to emphasize this: They’re both professional with every patient. The differences are subtle. But the differences are there.

If nobody else notices, does it matter?

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