Hospital Cleared in Marlen Ochoa Case After IDPH Investigation

The department released its findings last week, saying the hospital "was found in compliance with the Medicare Conditions of Participation"

Advocate Christ Medical Center, the facility facing questions following the birth of a child who police say was cut from the womb of his mother, has been cleared in an investigation by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The department released its findings last week, saying the hospital "was found in compliance with the Medicare Conditions of Participation." 

The report noted there were "deficiencies" found during the survey of the hospital, however. 

"Our hearts and prayers continue to be with the Ochoa-Lopez family, whose courage and grace have drawn the admiration of our entire organization," the hospital said in a statement. "We thank the Illinois Department of Public Health for its thorough review, and CMS for its assessment, which showed the medical care provided and actions taken by our staff were appropriate. Nevertheless, we are committed to learning from the experience to improve processes. Additionally, we would like to extend our deepest gratitude to our dedicated team for their tireless commitment to delivering world-class, compassionate care." 

The hospital had previously faced questions over why it did not immediately report that a woman who claimed to be the mother of a newborn showed no signs that she had given birth. 

That woman, Clarisa Figueroa, and her daughter, Desiree, were later charged with strangling the baby’s mother, 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa, and cutting the newborn from her womb.

Prosecutors said the 46-year-old Figueroa was examined in a birthing center at Christ Medical Center on April 23 "but showed no signs consistent with a woman who had just delivered a baby."

A technician at the Oak Lawn hospital cleaned blood from Figueroa’s arms, face and hands, prosecutors said, but it was unclear if anyone verified that she had actually given birth. Figueroa was allegedly able to pass off the baby as her own for weeks.

It wasn’t until May 9 that a "mandated reporter" — someone required to report suspected neglect or abuse — notified the Department of Child and Family Services about the newborn, DCFS spokesman Jassen Strokosch said. The child was then taken into protective custody.

After a DNA test proved that the baby was actually that of Ochoa's husband, the agency let the 48-hour protective custody lapse, and the baby was turned over to his father, Strokosch said. 

The infant, Yovanny Jadiel Lopez, died Friday after weeks on life support. His death was ruled a homicide by the Cook County Medical Examiner, which ruled the child died from a lack of oxygen and blood to his brain and cited "maternal assault and demise." 

Clarisa Figueroa and her daughter are being held without bail in the murder of 19-year-old Ochoa and cutting the baby out of her womb. They could also face additional charges in the infant's death. 

There is currently no law or regulation to to ensure a baby belongs to the person presenting with the baby at a hospital.

According to the IDPH report, clinical record showed a social worker was asked by a doctor at the hospital if Figueroa should "be making decisions on the baby because it may not be the baby's mother." The notes also show hospital administration wasn't aware that police were involved until they head about it on the news. 

In wake of the IDPH investigation, the hospital vowed to improve its communication and relationship with police and law enforcement on the campus. 

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