Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Bill Stevenson
Whitman County Gazette 

Hospital CEO asks staff to put patients above political opinions


October 15, 2020

Navy veteran Joshua Vincent waves a Blue Lives Matter flag outside the hospital in response to the letter sent out by CEO Hank Hanigan.

COLFAX –– There is a place for political commentary, but CEO Hank Hanigan doesn't think it should be at Whitman Hospital and Medical Center.

"We try extremely hard to provide the best environment we can to get healthy. We try to limit the stress and anxiety the patients and staff might have," he said.

Hanigan asked employees to refrain from putting flags or signs on vehicles, wearing clothing, or "displaying personal items bearing a political or advocacy message," in an Oct. 6 email to hospital staff.

His decision to ask people to avoid such displays stems from two employees who took offense with each other's display. One put a "thin blue line" police advocacy flag and flags supporting President Trump on her truck and the other responded with putting Black Lives Matter material on display.

Hank Hanigan

"(The police advocacy flag) was the one that offended an employee. She countered it with her own flag," said Hanigan. "People are starting to take sides. We need to get back to focusing on our patients."

The email is a request and not policy of the hospital.

"It's not a policy change. I was very careful on what I can and can't do. I was asking them," he said. "The flags are still flying and I don't believe that will change until the election."

Staff are still working together and there are no reports of vandalism.

"No people screaming at each other ... just a lot of opinions," he said.

Hanigan hopes staff will remember that the stress over opposing opinions can carry over to patients.

"The intention was just to get people to stop and reflect in the moment. Are my actions or reactions the best for the healing of patients?"

Author Bio

Bill Stevenson, Editor

Bill Stevenson is the editor of the Whitman County Gazette, Colfax Daily Bulletin and Franklin Connection. He has nearly 30 years of journalism experience covering news in Eastern Washington.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 5093974333
Twitter: @BillSte71925953
Contact Bill Stevenson


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