Hospital tossed out stillborn baby with dirty laundry, family says

A family accused a St. Paul, Minnesota, hospital of discarding a stillborn baby in dirty laundry instead of cremating him as promised.

The Washington Post reported that Esmeralda Hernandez delivered her premature, stillborn son, José, in April 2013. She kept him with her overnight and Regions Hospital staff offered to arrange a “respectful and dignified” cremation for the baby boy, according to the family lawyer.

The family was horrified two weeks later to learn that José’s body was found at a laundry facility 45 miles away from the hospital. News reports indicated that he fell out of dirty laundry and onto a metal grate in front of facility workers. The Post noted that he was wearing a diaper and identification bracelets at the time.

A police report obtained by KTSP revealed that the facility manager claimed that “it is not uncommon for her employees to find medical waste in the linens from Regions which may consist of tissue, blood, and on occasion, an appendage.”

Documents also stated that facility officials didn’t call the police after discovering José.

At the time, hospital officials said the child was wrapped up in the morgue and an employee mistook him for dirty linens, according to MPR News.

The lawsuit, which can be read in full below, said facility workers “gawked at” and took pictures of the baby boy’s body. Filed Wednesday in a Ramsey County District Court, Hernandez and nine family members are each suing the St. Paul hospital “far in excess of” $50,000 for mental pain and suffering.

In a statement released Monday, Regions Hospital said they made improvements to their procedure which was approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. They also pointed out that a similar mishap hasn’t happened since.

“We want to say again that we are truly sorry for our mistake,” hospital officials said. “We immediately reached out to the family in 2013 to apologize and to try to help ease their loss. We have continued to work with their lawyer – always open to a reasonable resolution.”

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