Dallas hospital investigating sock monkey gifts to employees

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Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas is investigating the distribution of sock monkey gifts to Black employees after the gifts spurred complaints, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The investigation was discussed at the Dec. 15 Dallas County Commissioners Court meeting.  

During the meeting, Parkland President and CEO Frederick Cerise, MD, addressed the gifts as part of an agenda item brought by Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, who has criticized the hospital's attempts to address systemic inequality, according to the Morning News.

The newspaper reported that Dr. Cerise said a vice president at Parkland bought mugs to give to eight employees. Mugs featuring a sock monkey cartoon — and filled with cocoa and candy — were distributed to three Black women, and Hershey's chocolate and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups mugs were distributed to one white man, one white woman and three Black women.

Dr. Cerise called the sock monkey gift distribution an "unforced error" and said Parkland has used it as "a teachable moment," the Morning News reported. 

The executive "wasn't aware of who was getting what mug," Dr. Cerise said. "It was an episode that this person felt terrible about."

When contacted by Becker's, Parkland referred to the comments Dr. Cerise makes in the Morning News article and said officials "don't have anything further to add."

An internal investigation at Parkland continues. 

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