Woman allegedly forced to give birth alone in jail cell without medical treatment
A mother has sued the city and county of Denver, Denver Health Medical Center and six others, after she was allegedly forced to give birth alone on a bench in a jail cell, KDVR reports.
According to 47-page lawsuit filed in the US District Court, Diana Sanchez notified Denver Sheriff Department officers around 5 am on July 31, 2018 that she was in labour. She claims that nurses — some of whom are employed by Denver Health — and deputies "callously left her alone for hours to give birth alone in a dirty jail cell without any medical care." Sanchez, who had been arrested two weeks prior for alleged identity theft, gave birth to a son around 10:44 am that day.
"The pain is indescribable and what hurts me more though is that fact that nobody cared," she told the station last year.
Sanchez said she had repeatedly told deputies that she was about to give birth but was dismissed.
"I was screaming, 'Can you please get the nurse? I'm in a lot of pain,'" she recalled telling one staff member around 9 am. "Then I told her, 'Look, my water broke, my water broke.'"
Video released by KDVR appears to confirm that account, showing Sanchez yelling in pain as she lays on a bench. A male nurse then walks in, seemingly unsure what to do after she gives birth.
"The failure to provide care to a woman who is in labour and a baby who is born without any medical assistance in a dirty jail cell, this is not civilised," said Sanchez's lawyer Mari Newman, in light of the lawsuit.
Although a report last year noted that a nurse did eventually call an ambulance, multiple nurses purportedly could not find a large clamp for the umbilical cord and had to call the Denver Fire Department for help because the paramedics took too long to arrive.
"They put my son's life at risk. Like at least him, he deserves a chance, you know," Sanchez told KDVR, following her son's birth. "When I got at the hospital, (doctors) said I could have bled to death."
In response to the lawsuit, a spokeswoman for the sheriff maintained that deputies had done what had been expected of them.
"The care and well-being of our inmates is a top priority for the Denver Sheriff's Department, which is why we work with Denver Health to provide comprehensive medical care at both of our jails," the spokesperson said in a statement.
"After learning that Ms. Sanchez gave birth in a cell at the Denver County Jail on July 31, 2018, Sheriff (Patrick) Firman immediately ordered Internal Affairs to conduct a review to understand what happened," the statement continued. "Denver Health was also asked to review this incident."
The investigation ultimately concluded deputies "took the appropriate actions under the circumstances and followed the relevant policies and procedures," the spokeswoman said.