GROVE — An Oklahoma woman said she was relieved of her duties at an Integris hospital after she cited religious reasons for not wanting to comply with a hospital policy.
Maggie McBane, of Grove, recently told her supervisor at Integris Grove Hospital that she objected to signing up patients to use palm scanners that the hospital uses to identify patients.
Integris, the largest Oklahoma-based health system in the state, uses a palm-vein scanner system known as PatientSecure, which works by scanning the vein pattern of a patient's palm, according to the Integris website.
McBane cited religious reasons, explaining that she thought the company was lying to its patients about the type of information it was collecting and that she thought the system resembles the “mark of the beast” referenced in Revelation, the last book in the Bible.
“We do have a First Amendment right to freedom of religion, and I don't think it's fair for a company to request activities of their employees that go against their moral faith without reasonable accommodation,” she said.
McBane said her next step may be to take legal action against Integris.
Integris spokeswoman Brooke Cayot said in a statement that Integris respects religious preferences and beliefs of all employees and patients.
“The matter came to the attention of Integris management,” Cayot said. “Our employee held the position of patient registrar, and conducting palm scans is an essential job function of that position.”
Cayot said palm scanners reduce the risk of medical identity theft and help the hospital system comply with federal identity protection safeguards.
McBane said she was told she needed to submit a letter from a pastor, confirming her religious reasons against the palm scanners. After McBane submitted the letter, Integris denied her religious accommodation, according to documents McBane shared with The Oklahoman.
Integris then gave McBane two options — be transferred to an Integris facility in Miami, OK, or find another job within the company within 30 days — or be fired, McBane said.
“Integris has a responsibility to do its part to help resolve conflicts between job duties and religious needs,” Cayot said. “Therefore, Integris honored our employee's request by not requiring her to use the palm scanner. Instead, Integris reasonably accommodated our employee's religious objection, as we do in all situations, by offering her a similar position, with the same rate of pay, at a nearby facility in Miami, Oklahoma.”
McBane said she can't work in Miami because it's a one-hour commute each way, and at a salary of $10.90 an hour, it's not worth it.
McBane said employees were not told to tell patients that the palm scan was optional. Rather, if a patient had a problem with it, employees were then supposed to tell patients they didn't have to use the system. She said this felt like staff members were misleading patients.
McBane also objected to the fact that she was told to scan only a patient's right hand. The Book of Revelation refers to what's commonly called the “mark of the beast.” It specifically references the right hand, she said. The reference is in Revelation 13:16-18.
“It gives me caution to enroll others that may not realize, as Christians, it may be damaging to their own spirituality,” McBane said.
McBane said she does not hate Integris, and is more hurt than angry.
“It was very frustrating and unfair to us as a family to have this sudden surprise, but I loved my co-workers, and it was a great job,” she said. “I definitely feel a loss — it's more loss than anger.”