How this black female physician changed a Delta flight policy

Delta Air Lines made an official change to its in-flight policy regarding medical credential verification after a crew would not allow Tamika Cross, MD, a resident at University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, assist a fellow passenger during a medical emergency.

In October, Dr. Cross sounded off on Facebook about the incident, writing that a flight attendant allegedly told her to put her hand down when they asked for medical personnel because, "[They were] looking for actual physicians or nurses," she wrote on Facebook. Her post went viral and spurred a social media campaign called #WhatADoctorLooksLike that aimed to break down stereotypes in medicine.

Now her words have also changed policies at a major airline. As of Dec. 1, Delta crews no longer need to verify medical credentials in an emergency.

"At the core of our culture is a commitment to continuous improvement," Allison Ausband, Delta's senior vice president of in-flight service, said in a statement. "When situations like the one described by Dr. Cross arise, we have a responsibility to our employees and our customers to review the circumstances and our policies for opportunities to listen, learn and improve. While Dr. Cross and I were able to discuss the situation over the phone, we also invited her to visit Delta so we could discuss her experience face to face and apologize for how that experience made her feel. We are grateful Dr. Cross came as it allowed us the opportunity to share some actions taken since the situation occurred."

Delta is also launching a three-month diversity and inclusion training for leadership, and plans to roll it out to frontline employees — including flight attendants — next year.


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