Woman says she was forced to give birth alone in Denver jail cell with no medical treatment

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DENVER -- A woman is suing the city and county of Denver, Denver Health Medical Center and six individuals after she said she was forced to deliver a baby alone on a bench in a jail cell at the Denver County Jail.

Diana Sanchez said she gave birth to the boy at 10:44 a.m. on July 31, 2018, and that she told Denver Sheriff Department deputies at 5 a.m. that she was in labor, according to a 47-page lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court. See the full lawsuit here.

She said her water had broken by 9:43 a.m., but, according to the lawsuit, Sanchez gave birth with no medical supervision or treatment.

Sanchez, who was booked into the jail two weeks earlier, alleges several Denver Health nurses and jail staffers knew she had been in active labor for hours, was days away from her due date and her water had broken hours before.

The lawsuit alleges nurses and Denver sheriff's deputies "callously made her labor alone for hours, and ultimately give birth alone in a dirty jail cell without any medical care."

"The failure to provide care to a woman who is in labor and a baby who is born without any medical assistance in a dirty jail cell, this is not civilized," Sanchez's attorney Mari Newman said.

Video from inside the jail shows moments after Sanchez gives birth, a male nurse is seen walking after he had been watching from outside the cell.

KDVR aired the video with Sanchez's consent.

"(He) picks up the baby as though he's never seen one in his life," Newman said. "I mean, the lack of any sort of compassion is astounding."

Besides the city and county of Denver and Denver Health Medical Center, individuals named in the lawsuit are Rachime Herch, Nina Chacon, Alexandra Wherry, Michael Hart, Tysen Garcia and Justin Albee.

“The care and well-being of our inmates is a top priority for the Denver Sheriff’s Department, which is why we contract with Denver Health to provide comprehensive medical care at both of our jails," a sheriff's spokeswoman said in a statement.

"After learning that Ms. Sanchez gave birth in a cell at the Denver County Jail on July 31, 2018, Sheriff (Patrick) Firman immediately ordered Internal Affairs to conduct a review to understand what happened. Denver Health was also asked to review this incident."

The spokeswoman said after the investigation, it was determined the deputies "took the appropriate actions under the circumstances and followed the relevant policies and procedures."

Policy has since been clarified that when an inmate is in labor, an emergency ambulance will be called."

The lawsuit was filed to "hold to account the officials who cruelly chose convenience over compassion."

"Any lay person can see that a woman who has been in labor for hours and hours and who is yelling, calling that she's in labor and needs to call the hospital needs to go to the hospital, pick up the phone and call 911," Newman said.

Denver Health said because it is a pending legal matter, it is not able to comment.

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