Idaho hospital investigates employee after 'inappropriate hand gesture' in social media post

St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls, Idaho, has launched an investigation after a photo of an employee "making an inappropriate hand gesture that is often interpreted as highly offensive" was posted on the hospital's social media sites, according to a hospital statement shared with Becker's.

The hospital, part of Boise, Idaho-based St. Luke's Health System, said the photo has since been removed, and it is looking into the matter.

"When we became aware of the image and the negative meaning many people have assigned to it, we quickly removed it and initiated an internal investigation," St. Luke's wrote in its statement. "We will take appropriate actions based on the findings."

The hospital added that the gesture in the photo "has often been associated with white supremacy" and that it "condemn[s] any act that could be perceived as racist, discriminatory, threatening, demeaning or dehumanizing."

St. Luke's has not identified the male employee or commented on the worker's job title, nor his employment status, citing an active investigation, the Times-News reported Jan. 28.

According to the Times-News, the photo used in the social media post was meant to promote St. Luke's Magic Valley as the only hospital in a four-state region with the Auryon System, a piece of medical equipment.

In its statement addressing the investigation related to the post, St. Luke's said it "is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, our values and our mission to care for all. We continuously strive to align our actions to ensure a safe, caring and welcoming environment for everyone in our communities.

"St. Luke's provides a variety of ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion training and information for team members, from comprehensive online courses and small group debrief sessions to guest speakers and resources about important dates, celebrations and holidays that help us create an inclusive and welcoming environment."

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