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Aug 28, 2001

Baby’s body in morgue freezer ten months

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The horrors confined to hospital corridors are seemingly endless but just when you think you’ve heard it all, a story like this one comes along. The body of a baby girl has been left in the morgue’s freezer for almost a year. News 5 was anonymously sent pictures of the baby in the morgue, but we have decided that they are too graphic to show you. The explanation the Ministry of Health is giving for all this is as disturbing as the story itself. How did this happen? And could it happen again? News Five Jacqueline Woods went to the Southern Regional Hospital looking for answers.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

On October twentieth, 2000 a seventeen year old woman went to the Southern Regional Hospital to have her baby. It was a premature birth and the baby girl lived for only thirty-six hours.

Jacqueline Woods

“Following the death of her baby, the mother discharged herself from the hospital. Hospital officials say the mother promised them that she would be back to pick up her baby’s body…but she never returned.

The baby was placed in the hospital’s morgue and the hospital made several attempts to locate the mother.

Bernadette Nicholson, Administrator, Southern Regional

“I’m not sure why the mother did not show up to pick up the body of her child. We believe that she may be from across the border. We’ve tried our best to locate her and it has failed.”

But by this time, eight months had elapsed and the baby remained in the hospital’s freezer. It’s not clear why hospital authorities did not contact the Human Development Department, which is responsible for pauper burials. Bernadette Nicholson, the hospital administrator says after she only started working at the Southern Regional Hospital only two months ago. It was she who contacted Anthony Lino, a human development officer to see what arrangements could be made to have the baby buried.

Bernadette Nicholson

“We informed him and he told me we can go ahead and he was more than happy to go ahead the way it was usually done, on credit. He would get all his pauper burials done in that manner and then the Human Development Department would pay him eventually.”

Nicholson would not identify the person who conducts such burials, but we understand he is a hospital employee who has traditionally provided the service for them.

Bernadette Nicholson

“He came back and he said that he would really want the funds up front. I explained to him the situation, that the funds will be forthcoming. I think that I where this burial was put on hold.”

That is until word about the dead baby was brought to the media’s attention. Although Nicholson believes the story overly exaggerated, fear of public scrutiny appears to have motivated parties involved to provide the baby with a final resting place. Reporting for News 5, Jacqueline Woods.

Hospital administrator Bernadette Nicholson told News 5 that stricter regulations have already been put in place at the morgue. Since this story broke, a local pastor has offered to conduct pauper burials on behalf of the hospital and through this new arrangement, the baby’s body will be buried tomorrow.

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