When the body of a stillborn baby is sent to the hospital laundry, it could be an accident. A tragic accident, but an accident all the same. Only now there's news that a second stillborn's remains are missing at the same Minnesota hospital that lost track of a family's little boy on Tuesday.
Suddenly we've gone from "terrible mistake," the words used by the hospital's chief nursing officer on Wednesday, to what? A callous treatment of human life? An employee with a serious problem?
Regions Hospital of St. Paul apparently can't find a second set of remains, this of a stillborn baby born at 19 weeks gestation. Unlike the body of the boy found in the laundry this week, this child's body is still missing.
Put yourself in those parents' shoes. They've already suffered the unspeakable horror of pre-term labor and a stillbirth. They are already suffering. And now the hospital can't find their child's remains.
They can't bury their child.
And there's something awfully fishy about it all. The hospital hasn't identified the worker who they say is responsible, but they're continuing with their "mistake" line. Said hospital CEO Brock Nelson:
All of us are accountable. There was no foul play involved here.
We have many good staff It's just a real tragedy ... we are just very, very sorry.
I bet he's sorry. But no foul play? Really?
One baby sent to the morgue and "accidentally" transferred to the laundry is bad enough. But two babies' bodies mishandled? A baby's remains missing?
That's not "just" an accident. That has to be labeled as more if only for the severity of the misdeed.
Two babies "misplaced" speaks to people seriously falling down on the job, either because they have a sick lack of respect for human life or because they just don't care.
And either way, it's unacceptable. Signing on to work in a hospital is different from taking most public sector jobs. You have to be aware that you are going to be dealing with life and death, with HUMAN life.
Regions Hospital says it's revamping its rules to ensure this doesn't happen again. They've added an improved identification process plus a better tracking process. But if they really want to send a message that these babies are valued, that losing someone's baby's remains is more than a mistake, their next step should be firing that employee.
Does this still read like a tragic accident to you?
Image via LaBellaVida/Flickr