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Parent’s Newborn Held Hostage by Hospital and Government Bureaucracy

HERSHEY, PA – Scott and Jodi Ferris recently discovered parents can have little control over what happens to their newborn child in a government-run hospital. When Jodi went into early labor, her midwife wisely recommended the couple get an ambulance and head for the nearest hospital. What followed could hardly make any parent of a newborn feel safe.

The child was born in the ambulance in the parking lot of the Hershey Medical Center.  Hospital personnel moved quickly to care for both baby and mom. But as the mother began to ask the reasonable questions of any concerned parent, she was instead met with a total lack of response.

What followed was a display of inexcusable bureaucratic arrogance. First, the mother was given an injection of oxytocin without asking permission or checking to see if she was allergic to the drug. In spite of Jodi’s constant questioning, hospital staff resisted answering questions about her newborn child.

A physician finally came to pronounce the baby healthy only to have a different doctor come a few minutes later to say “baby Ferris” was very sick and would have to stay in the hospital for a few days.  It was at this point it became obvious the real problem was the physician’s disdain for midwives as he retorted, “Too many people think they know what they’re doing.”

The parents were then told by a hospital staffer the baby would have to remain in the hospital for up to 72 hours for observation by requirement of Pennsylvania law. When the parents asked what law required such a stay, they were told risk management would have to address that. In fact, there is no such law in Pennsylvania.

After another several hours, a risk management staffer told the parents the required stay would only be 24 hours. It was also admitted the only risk being managed was any possible liability to the hospital.

The next afternoon, government social worker Angelica Lopez-Heagy appeared to announce she was there to conduct an investigation. When Jodi Ferris announced she was uncomfortable answering questions without knowing the nature of the allegations, the social worker threatened to call the police and take custody of the baby.

A vague reference was given to Jodi’s unwillingness to consent to the baby’s vitamin K shot. Jodi reports no one ever asked her or her husband about such a shot and that she overheard hospital staffers saying that they had already given Annie such a shot.

Just after husband Scott left the hospital to check on their other children, a hospital staffer appeared demanding permission to give the baby a shot for Hepatitis B. Jodi said that she would agree only if they tested her or Annie to see if either of them were positive. She was then told it was too late in the day to administer such a test but the baby needed the shot immediately.

The social worker pressed Jodi for a decision. Jodi asked if they could wait until her husband returned. Once again, a threat of police custody was made. If Jodi would not answer her question immediately, the police would be called. A new demand was added that Jodi and her husband agree to a safety plan for their home.   She and Scott would have to agree to sign the plan for the investigation to be concluded.

When the mother refused to sign the document without her husband or a lawyer present, police were called to escort her from grounds of the hospital. She would be allowed to return every three hours to nurse the baby. As a result, Scott and Jodi spent the night in the car in a Wal-Mart parking lot so she could be close enough to return to nurse their baby.

Thankfully, a judicial officer immediately returned custody of the baby to the parents the next morning, but not before bureaucrats had made their life a living hell and held the threat of losing their child over them for almost 48 hours. Unless some drastic change has taken place that the American people know nothing about, it is not a crime for parents to ask questions about the well-being of their children, it’s not a crime to ensure that a procedure is needed before embarking on it, and it’s certainly not a crime to be a protective mother.

The erosion of parental rights is happening each and every day. It doesn’t take a village to raise a child. It takes loving, concerned, involved parents to raise a child.

Parent like Scott and Jodi Ferris.

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