A report from the Illinois Department of Public Health indicates a doctor questioned if the woman who brought 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa's baby into Advocate Christ Medical Center was in fact the child's mother two weeks after the teen's grisly murder.
According to the department, investigators found clinical notes from a social worker who reported a doctor "came into my office and asked, 'should this mother be making decisions on the baby because it may not be the baby's mother.'" The notes were dated May 9.
The hospital had been facing questions following the birth of a child who police say was cut from the womb of his mother. The questions surrounded why the hospital did not immediately report that the woman who claimed to be the mother of the 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 and cutting the newborn from her womb.
IDPH 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."
Ochoa's family criticized the report and called for changes in state law.
"This report is biased. It’s dishonorable and it revictimizes the murdered wife and murdered son and it revictimizes my client Yovanny Lopez [Ochoa's husband]," Frank Avila, Lopez's attorney, said during a press conference Tuesday.
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.
According to the IDPH investigation, a nurse indicated that police visited the hospital on May 8. The report also stated hospital administration wasn't aware that police were involved until they heard about it on the news.
"That means the CPD visited the hospital and on May 9 they’re still allowing these fake, murderous villains who pretended to be this baby’s parents make medical decisions, including a transfusion," Avila said.
The child was then taken into protective custody on May 9 but was turned over to his father after a DNA test proved that the baby was actually that of Ochoa's husband, Strokosch said.
"There are mandated reporters by the law and they failed this baby and they failed this family," Avila 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.
In wake of the IDPH investigation, the hospital vowed to improve its communication and relationship with police and law enforcement on the campus.
"I just want to ask that anyone and everyone who has children and understands me that we want justice. Justice for my son, justice for my wife," Lopez said in Spanish. "There should be laws with protocols and procedures that protect people with the police, with everyone."