California hospitals accused of mishandling, losing bodies: 'They threw out the body'

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Two hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area are being accused of “losing” and mishandling bodies, including reportedly throwing out the body of a baby who suddenly died when the mother was six months pregnant. 

“They threw out the body,” Jillian Montelone told NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit of her baby, who died when she was six months pregnant. “[The social worker] said it was just labeled ‘tissue’ on my chart. How could it be labeled tissue? I was six months pregnant. I have a sonogram of the baby sucking his thumb.”

Montelone said she and her husband had made specific arrangements with Good Samaritan Hospital when she lost the baby, but that staff at the hospital instead mishandled their child’s body. The hospital, however, contends that there was a significant delay by the family to make arrangements for the body. 

“We made the arrangements before I left the hospital,” Montelone said.

Montelone isn’t alone, with Dana Venosta recounting that in 2018, her mother’s body had gone “missing” from Good Samaritan Hospital.” 

Court documents filed in a 2019 lawsuit against the hospital say it was “because another body was stacked on top of it for days.” Good Samaritan’s parent company, HCA Healthcare, settled the lawsuit and said staff failed to follow storage protocols. 

“When you lose someone as important as a mom, you try to find peace…and they just took that,” Venosta said.

Good Samaritan isn’t the only area hospital accused of mishandling patients’ bodies, with Regional Medical Center in San Jose having faced citations from the state in 2019. 

Inspectors cited Regional Medical Center for “[failure] to provide considerate, respectful care to two [separate] patients …this failure resulted in [one of its patient’s] remains being held at a local mortuary for 298 days and [another patient’s] remains being held in the hospital morgue for 108 days,” the outlet reported after obtaining state violations records. 

A hospital spokesperson admitted that staff should have been more proactive in transferring the bodies, but Monteleone questioned how the hospital could hold onto those bodies for so long but not her child’s.

“If they can hold on to remains for that long, how could they not hold onto my baby’s? How could just not value life?” Monteleone questioned.

Both Regional and Good Samaritan hospitals are owned by HCA Healthcare, which Monteleone blames for the mishandling. HCA Healthcare did not immediately return Fox News’s request for comment on the matter. 

One anonymous source, however, said that the problems at Regional Medical Center have been ongoing, and in one instance, the source said a body liquified because it wasn’t properly stored.

“We’d have six bodies and only four refrigerators. The transport orderlies would have to go down and rotate the bodies,” the former employee told the outlet. “This had nothing to do with staffing issues … just lack of care.”

A spokeswoman for both hospitals, Janine De La Vega, said, “we simply did not live up to our commitment. We can and should have done better.”

“We have investigated these incidents in detail and, as a result, have instituted a number of changes in our policies, processes and oversight to prevent them from happening again,” her statement continued. “…We know that [these incidents] have caused grief to the families involved. For that, we are sincerely sorry,” she said, adding that the cases are “rare and unusual.” 

Monteleone, however, said she never personally received an apology from the hospital. She and her husband are now expecting another baby, but noted she doesn’t want to return to Good Samaritan. 

“Definitely excitement but it also brings back a lot of memories,” she said. “It scares us…we definitely want to go to another hospital.”

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