A North Carolina nurse who joked about mistreating her patients on TikTok was suspended by her employer last week, local NBC affiliate WXII 12 reported.
Kelly Morris, a nurse at The Citadel Winston Salem nursing facility, was temporarily removed from her job after posting multiple viral TikTok videos that poked fun at resident abuse. The videos, which she posted under the username @bubblegumkelz to approximately 32,000 followers, included jokes about overmedicating patients, lying about vital signs, and unplugging a patient’s ventilator to charge her phone.
Morris was notified of her suspension after an Instagram user messaged her on June 25, requesting she take down her TikTok videos. Within a couple of hours, hundreds of people started calling The Citadel, Morris said, demanding she lose her job.
Her employer took action shortly after the calls came in, Morris said. But she maintains that she never intended to hurt anyone, and her videos were just jokes.
“It was just dark humor,” Morris said in an interview. “I was just recreating dark humor nursing memes.”
Morris added that she did not break any actual policies, there were no violations of HIPAA, and she did not include any patients in her content.
“The only thing hurt in my TikTok videos were people’s feelings,” Morris told WXII 12. “All my videos are comedy skits.”
Although Morris has asserted that her videos were supposed to be funny, many are not amused. Whitley Patterson, the daughter of a former patient at The Citadel Winston Salem who passed away earlier this year, said that she was very upset by the posts.
“I was very disturbed,” told WXII 12. “No words can express just how that video makes me feel.”
Kelly Wetzel, a spokesperson from Accordius Health, parent company of The Citadel Winston Salem, in a statement that her team was made aware of Morris’ TikTok videos the week of June 25, and began investigating and took action immediately.
“Misuse and unprofessional use of social media platforms by employees violates our core values and is not tolerated,” Wetzel said. She stated that any form of resident abuse is never tolerated, and assured the public that the facility has “handled the situation” and reported Morris’s actions to “appropriate state and federal agencies.”
“We love our residents; provide for and protect them every day,” Wetzel added. “We are grateful for the global healthcare team that protects the elderly with pride in our profession.”
Morris told WXII 12 that her story is an example of “cancel culture.” Her original TikTok account has been banned from the platform, but a new account under a similar username has been created.
After her suspension, Morris created a GoFundMe campaign to support her family while she is out of work. She apologized for her “bad taste jokes,” but stated that she still has children to care for as a single mother. Currently, the campaign has raised $300.
Morris said she wants to own up to her actions, and take accountability for what she did. “I do apologize to the people that I offended, I was being insensitive to other people’s point of view ”