Hospital Laundry Worker Discovers Baby's Body in Sheets

By: USA Today Email
By: USA Today Email

(USA Today)- Police are trying to trace events that led to a worker discovering a baby's body at a laundry service.

Officers were called to Crothall Laundry Services here just before 12:30 p.m. CT Tuesday after the infant's body tumbled out of a bed sheet being prepared for cleaning. The baby had a tag on its ankle and was wearing a diaper.

The linens that the baby was wrapped in originated at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, and were delivered Tuesday to the hospital laundry service about 40 miles away.

The laundry service notified Regions when it discovered the body, and hospital officials came to collect the remains immediately, the hospital said Wednesday. They said they have been working to notify the family of the incident and offer their apologies.

The remains of a 22-week-old stillborn boy had been wrapped in linens in the hospital morgue and were mistaken for laundry, the statement said.

"This was a terrible mistake, and we are deeply sorry," said Chris Boese, chief nursing officer at Regions Hospital. "We have processes in place that should have prevented this but did not. We are working to identify the gap in our system and to make sure this does not happen again."

The hospital delivers about 2,500 babies each year and has about two stillborns each month, she said at a news conference, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. This is the first time an infant's remains have been lost.

Boese said it's too early to say whether any hospital employees will be disciplined.

The hospital also is offering counseling to employees of the off-site linen service.

"Obviously, this hits close to home for those of us who work in health care," hospital spokesman Vince Rivard said.

Red Wing Police requested assistance from the St. Paul Police Department, and investigators learned that the boy was stillborn April 4. Boese said it is not unusual for a baby's remains to stay in the morgue for an extended period of time.

Police still are trying to determine how the body ended up in a sheet shipped to the laundry facility, but Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman said he sees no indication of foul play.

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