Parents charged with taking baby from Pa. hospital

December 6, 2012

April Saul, 42, and Daniel Rivera, 43, took their daughter out of Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown against a doctor's orders, according to court papers. Authorities said they also used obscene language when confronted by medical staff.

The couple's daughter was born prematurely in July and remained in the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit until Oct. 23, when her parents disconnected her from equipment that monitored breathing, temperature and heartbeat and declared their intent to take her to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said the child was still too ill to leave the hospital.

"When questioned by medical personnel, Saul and Rivera yelled loudly and used obscene language in the common area of the NICU. Nursing staff repeatedly asked the parents not to remove the baby from the unit because the baby's health could be endangered," a police affidavit said. "The attending physician also asked the parents not to remove the baby, and the parents continued to yell, use obscene language and insist that they were leaving the unit."

The couple left with their child and were stopped by Allentown police a short time later.

Saul and Rivera, of Pottstown, were charged Wednesday with endangering the welfare of children and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors. They were released on $10,000 unsecured bail and face a Dec. 14 preliminary hearing.

The couple does not have a listed phone number and could not be reached.

The hospital declined to comment Wednesday, citing the criminal charges. In a statement released in late October, the hospital said it was obligated by state law to report the parents to civil authorities once they ignored medical advice and removed their "medically unstable" daughter. The law sets out guidelines for protective medical custody.

"Staff is trained for scenarios just like this one and followed that training to the letter in responding to and attempting to safely resolve this incident," the statement said.

Prosecutors said Lehigh Valley Hospital arranged for the baby's transfer to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where she remains.

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