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Newborn Found Dead in Hospital Laundry

Mother sues hospital after her dead newborn is found in laundry

 By FRANK ELTMAN
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK -- A woman whose premature daughter died minutes after birth, and whose tiny corpse was later found mixed in with hospital laundry, has filed a negligence lawsuit against the hospital, her attorney said Thursday.

Verna Uptigrow, 35, of Queens Village, says she suffers from nightmares and depression following the death of her 22-week-old baby, named Isabella Rosa Pickney. The infant weighed less than a pound and only survived about 30 to 45 minutes after she was born on Feb. 19, said Uptigrow's attorney, Dan Flanzig.

"I did get to hold her, I got to feel her breath on my lips," Uptigrow said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit. "I told her I loved her, I told her happy birthday, and then they took her..."

Days after arriving home from South Nassau Communities Hospital, Uptigrow was told by her obstetrician that the infant's body somehow ended up mixed with the hospital's dirty linens.

Nassau County police, who investigated after Izabella's body was found at Oceanside Linen Services on Feb. 21, believe a hospital worker probably didn't see Izabella's body beneath a pile of soiled linen in a refrigerated locker.

The discovery was made by a laundry worker sorting through linens.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, claims the hospital and its "employees were willful and wanton, as well as reckless, careless and negligent in that it failed and omitted to apprehend and comprehend the degree of care necessary in handling the deceased infant."

It was filed Monday in state Supreme Court in Mineola.

The hospital issued a statement Thursday saying it has reviewed its procedures and has established a designated location in the morgue for the remains of infants and a new process that limits laundry in the morgue. It also said it will train staff who have access to the morgue on the new procedures.

"The hospital joins the family in their concern that every measure should be taken to prevent a similar future mishap," the statement said.

Flanzig said his client, a food service worker at the Bronx Psychiatric Center, filed the lawsuit in part to determine what procedures the hospital follows in disposing of corpses and to prevent other mothers from experiencing what she went through.

"This is insult to injury," Uptigrow said, holding up a tiny pink blanket in which her daughter had been wrapped. "Because of the way they treated her. Nobody should have to go through this hurt."

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

Last Updated ( Aug 24, 2006 at 07:49 PM )