A Colorado woman who gave birth alone inside a jail cell is suing Denver authorities, claiming her pleas for help went ignored while she endured five hours of labor.
NBC News reports Diana Sanchez was eight months pregnant when she was booked into Denver County Jail last summer on identity fraud charges. About two weeks after she was taken into custody, Sanchez's water broke while she was still behind bars. The now-27-year-old claims she "spoke with Denver deputies and Denver Health nurses at least eight times that morning, informing them each time she was experiencing contractions"; however, she did not receive any assistance and was simply given an absorbent pad that was slid under her jail cell door.
Surveillance video shows Sanchez attempting to get the deputies and nurses' attention, before she lies on her cot and begins screaming in agony. Her baby boy was born at 10:44 a.m. on July 31—"a day of unnecessary terror, pain and humiliation that continues to cause her ongoing emotional trauma," the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit states not a single nurse at the jail dried or warmed the baby after it was born. The nurses also allegedly neglected to clear the mucus from the baby's nose and mouth for "several minutes (or more). They also allegedly failed to give the newborn a vitamin K injection, a hepatitis B vaccine, or apply antiseptic eye drops to prevent infection. The baby's umbilical chord also wasn't severed until the Denver Fire Department showed up about 15 minutes later.
"Instead of getting Ms. Sanchez and her baby immediate medical attention Deputy [Alexandra] Wherry and nurse [Nina] Chacon chose to take a 'wait and see' approach to their care, as though it were not patently obvious to anyone—with or without medical training—that Ms. Sanchez was in labor and required immediate medical attention," the suit states.
The city and the county of Denver are listed as co-defendants alongside the Denver Health and Hospital Authority, four deputies and two nurses.
The Denver County Sheriff's Department announced it has since changed its policy to ensure all pregnant inmates are transferred to the hospital once they go into labor. Department spokeswoman Daria Serna told Denver 7 that the decision to move a pregnant inmate was previously left to the jail nurses.