October 1, 2020

Ohio Hospital Under HHS Investigation for Denying Medical Care to Premature Twins

Emery Finnefrock
In response to President Trump's executive order last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will be investigating an Ohio hospital for refusing medical care to two newborns simply because they had only reached a gestational age of 22 weeks.

The incident being investigated occurred back in 2017. Amanda Finnefrock went to Riverside Methodist Hospital because she was experiencing bleeding, and was afraid for her unborn twins. She was told by doctors there that unless her sons were born after 22 weeks and five days gestation, they would refuse to provide medical treatment. The boys were born three days later at exactly 22 weeks and five days gestation, but hospital workers still refused to provide any form of medical treatment for them. Because of this, Emery Finnefrock died 45 minutes after birth and Elliot Finnefrock died after crying in his mother's arms for over two hours.

In a press release about Trump's executive order, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that his agency had found the hospital guilty of violating the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) when it refused to send the children to the hospital's neonatal care unit. He further said that the incident will be investigated further to determine whether any other human rights violations occurred.

“Though I repeatedly asked staff to help or assess my babies, I was told they were born too young. But there is no documentation to prove they were born too young,” Finnefrock said in a statement. “In fact, I had been told previously they would not help if the babies were born before 22 weeks and [five] days. Documentation shows I was admitted at 22 weeks [two] days and the babies born at 22 weeks [five] days. Nevertheless, when I begged for help, they refused. I was discharged with instructions for care after stillbirth. But Emery and Elliot were not stillborn. They were born alive and died as Riverside Methodist Hospital staff denied my pleas for help.”

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