First Black nurse at Gillette Children’s Hospital continues to break barriers, change lives

Growing up, Tammy Sinkfield-Morey was the only Black student in her elementary and middle schools. 

Two decades later she was faced with a similar experience, becoming the first Black nurse to ever work at Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul. 

"That concept of being the ‘only’ really prepared me to be the only Black nurse at Gillette… I embraced it and I knew that was going to be an opportunity to help change that landscape for the people we care about," Sinkfield-Morey told FOX 9. 

One traumatizing encounter in her early days as a nurse changed everything. 

Sinkfield-Morey was caring for a sick child, but one of their family members did not want her in the room. 

"The grandfather was very racist, and I think that was the first time I had been called the ‘n-word’ to my (face)," Sinkfield-Morey said. 

It was then she decided to change the landscape and dedicate her life to harnessing the power of stories to combat prejudices and stereotypes. 

"It was that situation that really led me to that place where you have to know where everybody is coming from. We have to know their story," Sinkfield-Morey said. 

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Sinkfield-Morey curated and led salons, which are intimate sessions where people can talk honestly and freely about racism. Within the first month of June, she hosted eight salons. 

Her work is not only impacting her co-workers, but patients at the hospital, too. 

She’s using her position to make sure everyone, regardless of their race or gender, receives great, equitable healthcare.  

"It has shown other nurses of color that we can lead change, and we can be the change we want to see," said Sinkfield-Morey. 

She plans on expanding the concept of Story Care Salons into more communities. Sinkfield-Morey is currently applying for a grant to help do that through the University of Minnesota.