An Ohio hospital has come under investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services, accused of denying two premature infants medical care, allowing them to die instead. It’s a glimmer of hope for justice that is long overdue.
In 2017, Amanda Finnefrock went to the hospital, pregnant with twins. She was experiencing bleeding, and was scared for her sons. Unfortunately, it was still early in the pregnancy, and Finnefrock was told that unless her sons were born after 22 weeks and five days gestation, the hospital would make no attempt to save them. Three days later, the boys were born — at exactly 22 weeks and five days gestation. Despite their earlier promise, hospital staff did nothing to help the boys, even though they were born breathing, and lived long after their birth without any aid.
Since the deaths of her sons, Finnefrock has been working to ensure that no mother has to endure what she did. Alex Azar, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, released a statement this month singling out Riverside Methodist Hospital for violating the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) in Finnefrock’s case. Azar also said the HHS Office for Civil Rights will be investigating further to ensure no other civil rights violations took place.
Finnefrock’s first son, Emery, was born without any hospital staff present. Finnefrock held him against her chest as he moved. Through tears, Finnefrock can be heard in a video pleading, “You guys are gonna save him, right? Promise me they’re gonna save him… look at him. Please save him!” You can see this in the video below:
Despite Finnefrock’s pleas, hospital staff did nothing. Emery was wrapped in a blanket, placed underneath a lamp, and abandoned. Despite the lack of any medical care whatsoever, Emery lived for 45 minutes after his birth.
Finnefrock’s second son, Elliott, was born larger than his brother. Like Emery, Elliott was moving — but he was also crying, which means his lungs were functioning, and he showed more promising signs of potential survival. But staff still did nothing to save his life. Elliott lived for over two hours after birth, with Finnefrock holding him, crying, “Mommy tried. Mommy tried.”
In the attending notes, the hospital acknowledged that the boys were born at 22 weeks and five days.
“Though I repeatedly asked staff to help or assess my babies, I was told they were born too young. But there is no documentation to prove they were born too young,” Finnefrock said in a statement. “In fact, I had been told previously they would not help if the babies were born before 22 weeks and [five] days. Documentation shows I was admitted at 22 weeks [two] days and the babies born at 22 weeks [five] days. Nevertheless, when I begged for help, they refused. I was discharged with instructions for care after stillbirth. But Emery and Elliot were not stillborn. They were born alive and died as Riverside Methodist Hospital staff denied my pleas for help.”
“I am so thankful to finally have acknowledgement from our government that what Riverside Methodist Hospital did is wrong,” Finnefrock said in a statement given to pro-life group Created Equal. “I am praying that they are held accountable for what they have done to my beautiful sons and everything they put our family through. I also hope that with this new Executive Order by the president, babies all around the country will be saved no matter the circumstances. They all have value and worth.”
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