Dayton NAACP asks Ohio to revoke medical license of senator who asked about ‘colored’ hand washing

Steve Huffman
Steve Huffman

The Dayton Unit of the NAACP is calling on Ohio to revoke the medical license of state Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, who asked a hearing witness whether the “colored population” has been hit harder by COVID-19 because they may not wash their hands as well as other groups.

“Senator Huffman displayed extremely poor judgment and a dangerous insensitivity to Black Ohioans ,” read in part the letter Tuesday from the NAACP to Dr. Michael Schottenstein, president of the State Medical Board of Ohio.

“We urge you to investigate Dr. Huffman and revoke his license to practice medicine in this state,” the letter continued.

FIRST REPORT: Lawmaker asks if 'colored population' not washing their hands as well as others behind COVID rates

Huffman, an emergency room physician, was fired by Team Health, a physician staffing company, after the Dayton Daily News published a story about Huffman’s remarks.

Tuesday’s letter signed by Derrick Foward, president of the Dayton Unit NAACP, called into question Huffman’s ability to provide equitable health care to Black Ohioans.

“His conduct shows him to be incompetent to treat patients with fairness, empathy, and the appropriate duty of care that all people deserve,” read the letter.

The letter also calls for the medical board to review Huffman’s past medical cases and determine if anyone received “inadequate or tainted treatment.”

MORE: Lawmaker fired from physician job; groups call for him to resign seat after ‘colored’ comment

Huffman did not return a message seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.

Previously, the Ohio NAACP and the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, have called for his resignation from the legislature, as have the A. Philip Randolph Institute of Ohio and ACLU of Ohio.

Huffman’s comment and question were captured on camera during a June 9 Senate Health Committee hearing on whether to declare racism a public health crisis.

The term Huffman used during the hearing was an offensive and dehumanizing racist stereotype that has justified the worst abuses and torment of Black people throughout America’s history, Foward wrote to Schottenstein.

“The resurgence of such language in the year 2020 is an abomination,” the letter read.

There is precedent for the board to take action against physicians who make racial or ethnic comments, the NAACP contends.

Last summer, the board issued a citation to Lara Kollab, a former Cleveland Clinic resident, with making anti-Semitic comments on social media and then making false claims to cover the comments, medical board records show.

Kollab has requested a hearing and continuances and the board has not issued a final decision on discipline, said Tessie Pollock, a State Medical Board of Ohio spokeswoman.

Complaints to the medical board are “triaged” and reviewed by a two-person panel to determine if the complaint falls under the board’s jurisdiction. Details of a complaint under investigation will only be made public if the board makes a formal disciplinary finding, Pollock said.

MORE: Ohio NAACP calls for senator who asked about ‘colored’ hand washing to resign

Huffman posted an apology on his Facebook page that said in part: “I had absolutely no malicious intent, but I recognize that my choice of words was unacceptable and hurtful. I apologize, and I make no excuses. Those who know me will tell you that I have nothing but love and respect for all people, and I would never intentionally disrespect or denigrate anyone for any reason.”

Huffman added that he is reaching out to those he offended to ask for their forgiveness, their input and their guidance “on how we can turn this mistake into a time of learning as we work together to build a better Ohio.”

The NAACP Dayton Unit is asking the 12-member medical board to respond within a week.

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