Two staffers at a Florida Navy hospital are being investigated after “inappropriate” photos and videos showing them forcing a newborn baby to dance to rap music and calling babies “mini Satans,” were posted to social media.
Allyson Thompson and Joanie Barrett, who are Navy sailors stationed at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, have been removed from patient care after the posts went viral on Facebook, the hospital said in a statement.
“We are aware of a video / photo posted online. It’s outrageous, unacceptable, incredibly unprofessional, and cannot be tolerated,” the hospital’s commanding officer, Captain David Collins, said in the statement.
While they have widely been referred to as “Navy nurses,” Thompson, 21, and Barrett, 23, are actually hospital corpsman and not registered nurses. Sean Cronin, a Jacksonville area attorney who has filed medical malpractice suits dozens of times against the Naval Hospital, told WJXT-TV that the corpsman are the equivalent of civilian certified nurses assistants. They are supervised by doctors and nurses and are not licensed. He said he expects the women will face dishonorable discharge from the military and possible criminal charges, while their supervisors could also face punishment, including firing.
“I’m absolutely, utterly shocked. I’ve never seen anything that is so blatant and malicious,” Cronin told the news station “To me this looks like abuse. We have corpsmen who are inappropriately handling children, and they appear to be doing it in a malicious fashion.”
The case has drawn nationwide news coverage, and impacted the entire Navy Medicine system. Navy Surgeon General Forrest Faison issued an order to commanders on Tuesday banning the use of personal cell phones in patient care areas, requiring commanders to personally reach out to expectant mothers planning to give birth at all Navy medical facilities and to ensure that there are no other unauthorized photos or videos of patients on social media. He also ordered “all-hands stand downs within 48 hours” to “review our oaths, our pledges, our reasons for serving, as well as Navy Medicine’s policy regarding use of personally owned phones and other recording devices.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Video Shows a Newborn Baby Being Forced to Dance to 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’
The video, which can be watched above, shows a Naval Hospital Jacksonville employee forcing a newborn baby to dance to 50 Cent’s song “In Da Club.”
The brief video shows one of the corpsmen swinging the baby’s arms to the beat and laughing. The two women involved in the video has been identified as Allyson Jeanette Thompson and Joanie Barrett. Thompson is not pictured in the video, but is believed to have been recording it. Authorities have not confirmed that it was Barrett holding the baby.
“We’re going to hell,” the woman filming the video, can be heard saying.
Another photo posted to social media shows a newborn baby sleeping and a woman’s middle finger extended toward the child. You can see the photo below:
The photo is captioned, “How I currently feel about these mini Satans.” The babies seen in the photos and video were only hours old, WJAX-TV reports.
2. The Videos & Photos Were Posted to Snapchat by Thompson & Then Shared on Facebook by a High School Classmate
The videos were first posted to Snapchat by Allyson Thompson, and then were shared on Facebook by a high school classmate.
“A girl I went to high school with is a navy nurse and this is how her and her shitty friend treat the babies that have just been born,” the classmate wrote. “My blood is literally boiling and I want to snitch bc that is someone’s child. The first pic is her friend who is making the baby dance and she’s playing rap music in the background. I’m LIVID and I’m snitching bc she should get fired from her job but idk how to go about it. Pissed isn’t even the words.”
Denisa Shellito, a military spouse, then shared the photos on her Facebook page, and her post went viral, receiving more than 100,000 views in a day as it spread throughout the military family community.
“I’m just sharing someone’s post in hopes that these childish girls get reprimanded and lose their jobs,” Shellito wrote. “They work at the naval hospital in Jacksonville, FL. Call, email, do whatever it takes to get through to administration!!”
3. Naval Hospital Jacksonville Says the Corpsmen Will Be Handled by the ‘Legal System & Military Justice’
Naval Hospital Jacksonville issued a statement Tuesday after the social media posts went viral. While the post did not name the corpsmen, it said they are being dealt with. The social media posts are being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).
“We are aware of a video / photo posted online. It’s outrageous, unacceptable, incredibly unprofessional, and cannot be tolerated,” said the statement, attributed to Captain David Collins, the commanding officer at the hospital. “We have identified the staff members involved. They have been removed from patient care and they will be handled by the legal system and military justice. We’ve notified the patient’s parents.”
Anthony Kolenc, a professor at the Florida Coastal School of Law and former military JAG, told WTLV-TV that the corpsmen could face harsh punishment.
“I think what’s particularly egregious is the amount of media this is getting,” Kolenc, a law told the news station. “Considering the outcry and the embarrassment to the Navy I’m assuming this qualifies as service disqualifying conduct for these two ladies.”
Kolenc said among the options for punishment are: administrative discipline, which would mean being written up, but not fired; administrative discharge, which would mean being fired, but not criminally charged; captain’s mast, which harsh discipline like loss in rank and pay and being restricted to base, but no criminal charges; or court martial, which would mean criminal charges and possible dishonorable discharge.
“The supervisors and the commanders will make the ultimate decision on what punishment these corpsman will get, even if the parents of the babies were fine with not having charges pressed, the commander might disagree and say I still think it’s serious enough to warrant that,” Kolenc told the news station. “Shocking and embarrassing for the Navy, I know the commanders are horrified to see this kind of public relations nightmare, this strikes me as stupid, millennial misbehavior. As a defense counsel, I defended a lot of young and stupid Air Force men too. Young people sometimes make really dumb decisions.”
The hospital is located at Naval Air Station Jacksonville and proudly states on its website, “Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s priority is to heal our nation’s heroes and their families at our hospital–the Navy’s third largest–and branch health clinics in Florida and Georgia.”
The hospital’s Facebook page states, “The 2,400 active-duty and civilian staff do whatever it takes to deliver the highest quality, patient- and family-centered care. And with its community partners, NH Jax collaborates on a shared regional vision for safe, high-quality care. The command—the fourth largest in Navy Medicine—serves nearly 85,000 enrolled patients and expands its capacity to treat 163,000 beneficiaries through robust partnerships with local hospitals and physicians in the TRICARE network. NH Jax stands ready to support operational missions anytime, anywhere—from disaster relief to front-line combat care–and provides world-class medical care on the battlefield and on the homefront.”
In an updated statement later Tuesday, the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery said, “We are aware of the inappropriate video and photos and confirm they are hospital corpsmen, not nurses, but we are unable to confirm their names or tenure in light of the ongoing investigation. The individuals have been removed from patient care, meaning they will not be providing direct patient care.”
The statement continued that, “We are also contacting patients to address any questions or concerns they may have. This type of behavior is incompatible with the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment, as well as medical ethics. It also does not reflect the commitment Navy Medicine has to provide the best care our nation can offer to those who serve as well as their families. An investigation is underway. Once the investigation is complete, appropriate actions will be taken.”
Also on Tuesday, Navy Surgeon General Vice Admiral Forrest Faison, the Navy’s top doctor, posted a message to Navy Medicine commanders saying members had “posted highly offensive photos and videos on their personal social media pages involving newborns at our naval hospitals.”
He said, “Unprofessional and inappropriate social media behavior is inconsistent with both our core values of honor, courage and commitment as well as our medical ethics, violating the oaths we took for our profession and office. This type of behavior also has a negative effect on mission accomplishment and good order and discipline.”
Faison has ordered that no personal cell phones be used in patient care areas and also ordered Navy Medicine-wide stand downs to occur within 48 hours.
“I have directed immediate mandatory all-hands stand downs within 48 hours at all Navy Medicine commands to review our oaths, our pledges, our reasons for serving, as well as Navy Medicine’s policy regarding use of personally owned phones and other recording devices,” Faison said. “Further, all commanding officers will be tasked to ensure no additional patient photos exist on social media and to take immediate action to remove such content. We are committed to working closely with ongoing investigations to ensure we have the facts and take appropriate action. I have also implemented an immediate prohibition of all personal cell phones in patient care areas until further notice. Additionally, I have directed all commanding officers to personally contact current mothers and expectant mothers planning to deliver in one of our facilities to reassure them, inform them of our actions, and address any of their concerns.”
In an age where information can be shared instantly, what we say and post online must reflect the highest standards of character and conduct, in both our personal and professional lives. As health care professionals, we are entrusted with the lives and well-being of all those who have volunteered to defend our freedom, including their families. We owe them the best care and compassion our nation can offer. We also owe them our unqualified respect. Any behavior that falls short of this expectation will be dealt with appropriately. This type of inappropriate conduct violates two of my core values: (1) be worthy of the trust placed in our hands in the privilege of caring for America’s sons and daughters, and (2) be worthy of the “uniform” we wear, both military and civilian, and all that we represent. At every level of the enterprise, we must send a clear message that Navy and Navy Medicine leadership take every allegation of offensive and unacceptable online conduct seriously and will hold responsible individuals accountable for their actions. …
I applaud the individuals who took a stand when they witnessed this inappropriate behavior online. They chose not to be silent. This is what I expect of every member of the Navy Medicine team – from the deck plate to our senior leaders. Honor, service, caring and compassion – that is what the Navy Medicine team represents. Because of that, American families rest well at night knowing we have the watch and are committed to the best care for their loved ones. We cannot compromise the trust that has been placed in our hands. Our Sailors, Marines and their families deserve our best.
4. Thompson Is Originally From Alabama & Has Been in the Navy Since 2014
“Shout out to the best Chief and instructor ever, helping me through A-School and making fun of my “country” accent every day in class,” she wrote in a Facebook post, along with the photo above. “He’s a real inspiration and I hope to make Chief and higher one day. Hooyah A-School graduated!!”
Prior to being stationed at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Thompson was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, on the USS Mason, a destroyer, according to her Facebook page.
Thompson is originally from Alabama and graduated from Opelika High School in 2014 before joining the Navy, according to her Facebook page.
“Said goodbye to my wonderful mommy for the last time. Lord knows I don’t know what I’m gonna do without her but this journey has been really great and serving in the Navy is an honor most people never get the opportunity to experience,” she wrote on Facebook on her way to boot camp.
Thompson did second guess her choice to enlist in the Navy, posting in December 2014, “I should have went to college like I originally planned instead of joining the military..biggest mistake of my life. 💁” She added, “It’s not that I’m not happy, it’s just that it’s not really for me..
One person wrote, “Didn’t know “adulting” consisted of f*cking with people’s new born babies…”
Another said, “Adulting….. or playing with babies? Like they’re toys instead of humans? Oh okay.”
“Good luck adulting in jail 👍🏼,” wrote a third.
“Lol your career in the military and a nurse is over. You’re a disgrace to your family & the US. you talk of a good man. Who will want you?,” one Twitter user wrote.
Thompson could not be reached for comment.
5. Barrett, a Pennsylvania Native, Married a Fellow Sailor in May
Joan Hunter Barrett is a Pennsylvania native, growing up in Lewisberry and Wellsville, according to public records. She was married in May 2017 to a fellow Navy sailor and now goes by Joanie Barrett Fender, according to her deleted Facebook page and her Twitter account.
It is not clear how long Barrett has been in the Navy. She said on Facebook that she is a hospital corpsman. She attended Trinity High School, a Catholic school near Harrisburg Pennsylvania, and then studied cosmetology at The Temple: A Paul Mitchell Partner school, in Frederick, Maryland, according to her Facebook page.
“USN ⚓️ Jeeps OlllllllO 💋 Tats 🌊 Salt Life 🌴,” her Twitter profile reads.
In September 2016, she wrote on Twitter, “You hate tats, officers, independence, ambition and happiness… Yet you still hit my sh*t up? #EverythingIAm ✌🏻️”
Barrett did not respond to requests for comment.