USA: Woman who gave birth alone in Denver prison cell files lawsuit
A woman who gave birth alone in her prison cell in Denver is suing the Colorado city after officers and nurses allegedly ignored her cries for help during five hours of labour.
Diana Sanchez can be seen crying out in agony before eventually lying down on a narrow bed in clips of silent surveillance footage released by her lawyer.She then appears to pull off her pants and deliver her baby son without supervision or treatment. An absorbent pad was slid under her door for her to put on her bed around 45 minutes before she gave birth. Following the birth on 31 July 2018, a nurse walked in and picked up the newborn.“That pain was indescribable,” Sanchez told Denver KDVR-TV in an interview last year.
“And what hurts me more though is the fact that nobody cared.”
Her lawyer Mari Newman said: “To characterise it as medical care is a joke.” She also noted that the open toilet, positioned several feet away from where Sanchez gave birth, was blacked out by the city in the video.
The federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday said that prison officials “cruelly chose convenience over compassion” by not calling for an ambulance after Sanchez’s water broke and she was bleeding. It states that a van was requested to take Sanchez - who was in a medical cell at the jail - to the hospital. However, prison workers knew the ride would not be available for hours until the morning booking process was finished. The lawsuit added that no nurse dried or warmed the baby or cleared mucus from his mouth for several minutes, and that prison nurses did not have equipment to cut the baby’s umbilical cord. It was not severed until firefighters arrived around 15 minutes after the baby was born.
On Thursday, the Denver County Sheriff’s Department said that it has since changed its policy to ensure that pregnant inmates who are in any stage of labour are immediately taken to hospital. Department spokeswoman Daria Serna said that decisions about whether to move a pregnant inmate were previously left to prison nurses, but deputies are now authorised to call for an ambulance for someone in labour. Denver Health declined to comment on a pending lawsuit but defended its work in the prison.
“Denver Health provides high quality medical care to thousands of inmates every year,” spokesman Simon Crittle said.
Sanchez was not available for comment. She previously told Denver KDVR-TV, which first reported on the delivery, that the prison saw inmates as “garbage”.
She added: “I know I was there because I was at fault for that I did wrong - and I didn’t deserve that and especially not my baby.”
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