University Hospital nurse placed on paid administrative leave

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A University of Utah nurse has been put on paid administrative leave for making racial comments online against the Tongan community.

FOX 13 News wants to warn readers, the comment you’re about to read is extremely offensive.

Hospital officials confronted nurse Todd Shrum Tuesday in the heart catheter lab where he works where he admitted posting the phrase "Tongan trash ... kill them all" on social media.

Shrum said his comment was a knee-jerk reaction after a Tongan gang member was shot and killed at the federal courthouse Monday.

"The only thing I can realize is that I used a very poor choice of words. I shouldn't have said that and that people would infer I was talking about the entire Tongan race. I was talking about the gang members only,” Shrum said. “I sincerely, sincerely apologize."

After Shrum, a former Marine, now a University Hospital nurse, posted the comment, someone in the community grabbed a snapshot of it and posted it on University of Utah Healthcare's Facebook page.

The hospital suspended Shrum Tuesday.

"I can tell you as a university we take the trust that our patients place in us very seriously and when we have an employee who makes disparaging, violent comments our first reaction is to do the right thing for the patients," said hospital spokesman Chris Nelson.

"I work with Tongans, I take care of Tongans. I find them to be very family oriented, lovely people. I never meant for you guys to construe my thoughts as an indictment of the whole race," Shrum said.

Shrum said he's received a handful of death threats. Hospital officials say they're still investigating the remarks and will give the nurse his due process but more than 100 people have complained to the hospital and say Shrum should be fired.

FOX 13 News asked Shrum if he was concerned he might lose his job over this.

“Yes sir I am,” Shrum said.

FOX 13 News asked the nurse if he could be out of job by the end of the week.

“Yes sir, I could,” Shrum added.

FOX 13 News asked Shrum if he thought he should be fired over this.
“I don't know, I can't answer that," Shrum said.

Hospital officials are still investigating and say Shrum has made other questionable racial remarks online, which Shrum denies.

FOX 13 News asked hospital officials, as offensive as the comment was, does Shrum have the right under free speech?

Hospital officials say, possibly, but they’re focus is on the well-being of patients and Shrum’s role in health care coupled with the violent nature of his comment is what has officials concerned.

Shrum has been with the hospital since May of 2009. Hospital officials could decide by the end of the week whether Shrum keeps his job.

24 comments

  • Johnny Swallows

    Todd Scum has made many other racist posts on his Facebook timeline. He should be fired and sent back to Alabama, where he is from.

  • Daisy L.

    KSL do us a favor and research before reporting! Todd Shrum is a bigot and racist period! His racist comment about Tongans is not the first to be uttered out of his mouth, and it’s certainly not the last! Read all his other posts on social media, you’ll see his true character revealed. However, I’m sure KSL won’t be reporting about that.

  • Josh

    He is getting death threats? So we react to hate with hate? I don’t think he is the only problem here.

    • Bitsko

      But liberal hate is GOOD hate. P.C. hate is constructive.

      I wonder how many of the “I Hate Mormons” crowd, who post here regularly, also work for the Hospital? Should they be fired? I suspect the double-standard would apply.

  • Heidi

    If you work in the medical field, you are there to care for the health of people, period. Leave your other emotions at the door. And in my personal opinion, if you feel that way about any gender, race, religion, or orientation…find another job.

  • Sia

    “The only thing I can realize is that I used a very poor choice of words. I shouldn’t have said that and that people would infer I was talking about the entire Tongan race. I was talking about the gang members only,” Shrum said. “I sincerely, sincerely apologize.”

    “gang members only” but his comment was about Tongans I didn’t see no type of gang affiliated remarks or hear of them I just saw in my persepctive big caps “TONGANS kill them ALL” To bad it wasn’t a read, re-read, correct any type of mistakes and than post type of thing… Live and Learn, forgive and forget right? Thanks for serving our country though(: we appreciate it alot! #GiveTheManHisJobBack

  • Cassandra

    Despite how I feel on racism… This is a “Freedom of Speech” issue. These remarks were made on his personal profile to a site that is not associated with his place of employement. If he is fired or demoted he should seek a lawyer.

    • Sia

      I’m Tongan and i would not feel safe if i attended UofU Hospital and he was my Nurse…gang affiliated or not… “gang members” are people too. Should he seek a lawyer for using his “Freedom of Speech” unconstitutionally? Knowing my rights as a citizen I don’t feel protected to attend a hospital at all. But like what I said #GiveTheManHisJobBack

    • Bunchy Carter

      Residents should realize that there may be serious consequences for “posting or promoting content that substantially disrupts or materially interferes with University of Utah activities, or that might lead University authorities to reasonably foresee substantial disruptions or material interference with University activities.” This may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. (University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics Standard). This is from the University’s social media policy.

    • d

      @ Cassandra His freedom of speech was not violated. He as a nurse took an oath to “do no harm.” And his comments put him in light of judgments that question if he had the best intentions to do his all as a nurse for this patient. So for you to believe That you posted something of intellectual value take the time to study before you try to preach.

  • Amanda Hardy

    All he is talking about on here is the “Tongan” comment he made but what about the Iranians and Black people aka Welfare trash, And the people from Mexico??? Who he said that all the “wet backs” should be sent back and Mexico should be NUKED!!! This is BS!!!!! FIRE HIM!!!!!!! He should not represent University Healthcare in ANY way shape or form!!!! And did he really say he doesn’t know if he should be fired?!?! YES YOU SHOULD!!!

  • Barack Hussein Obama

    Bear in mind that, on this site at least, you can post as anyone you wish. And link to any Facebook you wish.

  • Rockey

    As a health care professional myself, I believe he should and will be fired. Because it is part of the job, we are held to a higher standard. Let this be a lesson to everybody, if you don’t have anything nice to say about anything, don’t say it at all. And I believe it is an ignorant thing to wish death upon anyone even gangsters. Everyone is somebody’s child, brother, sister, father, mother, cousin, grandchild, etc. I don’t wish death on Todd, but I hope he learns from this and changes his attitude about other races.

  • les

    As a tongan I was pissed off what he said but then you listen to him explain him self and it was against the person or gang members not all tongan so. We should forgive and forget. God bless this man and I hope he doesn’t lose his job over a stupid comment.

  • diana

    OSHA laws were broken. Because of his statement after the fact that it was a big case hearing I am able to identify who the individual he speaks of. That is just one of many things this boy (because no Real Man would be so ignorant) And him saying that he doesn’t imply his statement directly towards the race but towards gang member that are of that race is completely meager and does not make any less of an offense. Although they may have made some poor decisions, that does not make them any less of a human being than those who go to college and receive a degree in a field where people’s well being are in their hands. Obviously he has proven this. Our culture is taught not to hold on to evil and to forgive those who are not as humble and wise. With that, I pray for peace for his loved ones and for Todd the consequences of your actions are far less than the judgements of Our God.

  • diana

    @ Cassandra His freedom of speech was not violated. He as a nurse took an oath to “do no harm.” And his comments put him in light of judgments that question if he had the best intentions to do his all as a nurse for this patient. So for you to believe That you posted something of intellectual value take the time to study before you try to preach.

  • opinion

    Yeah..people said it’s a free speech so what do you call free speech. When you can’t even free speech in public in front the president come lets be for real about this free speech stuff that been striped from everybody when obama came president Speaking about the laws of our constitution.

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