Illinois Department of Public Health officials are investigating Christ Medical Center in connection with its handling of the baby of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez.
A south suburban hospital is under investigation by state health officials over how it handled the case of a newborn baby who was brought in last month after allegedly being cut out of his mother’s womb as part of a gruesome plot to steal the child.
The Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed Tuesday that officials were investigating Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in connection with the case of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez’s murder, but would not comment further.
The department of public health is mandated to regulate hospitals in the state and works to ensure hospitals are operating in compliance with state laws.
The baby, named Yovanny Jadiel Lopez, remains at Christ Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit, where doctors are continuing to monitor his condition and will perform additional tests this week, family spokeswoman Julie Contreras said Tuesday.
The baby’s mother, Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, was killed April 23 after being lured to the Scottsdale home of Clarisa Figueroa, 46, and her 24-year-old daughter with the promise to provide her with baby clothes, Cook County prosecutors have said.
Both Clarisa and Desiree Figueroa face a charge of first-degree murder in Ochoa-Lopez’s death and are being held at the Cook County Jail after being denied bail at a hearing last week.
Prosecutors said the two woman plotted to kill Ochoa-Lopez before strangling the expectant mother with a coaxial cable and then cutting the baby from her womb with a butcher’s knife.
Clarisa Figueroa then called 911 and was brought to Christ Medical Center with the baby, who she claimed was her own, authorities said. Clarisa Figueroa was examined at the hospital “but showed no signs consistent with a woman who had just delivered a baby,” which she said was her own for weeks until a DNA test proved the baby was Ochoa-Lopez’s child, prosecutors said.
It wasn’t until May 9 that a “mandated reporter” at the hospital — someone required to report suspected neglect or abuse — notified the Department of Child and Family Services about the newborn, DCFS spokesman Jassen Strokosch said.
On Monday, the Cook County sheriff’s office announced it was questioning whether the hospital violated the Abuse and Neglected Children Reporting Act when it failed to immediately notify child protection authorities that Clarisa Figueroa did not appear to have given birth to the boy.
However, the sheriff’s office said Tuesday that it will not pursue an investigation, instead allowing state officials to “take the lead,” according to office spokeswoman Cara Smith.
‘Praying for a miracle’
Contreras said the baby opened his eyes Sunday while he was visited by his older brother and his father, Yovani Lopez, and that the family is “praying for a miracle.”
“His father said ‘fight my handsome son’ and he opened his eyes,” Contreras said.
Contreras said doctors haven’t been able to tell the family what that means for the boy’s chances, but will continue to run tests this week.
“I see a medical team who has cared for this child from day one,” Contreras said. “[The family has] been provided the best medical care and support from” the hospital.
On Tuesday night, the boy’s family is expected to welcome Ochoa-Lopez’s maternal and paternal grandmothers to Chicago at Lincoln United Methodist Church in Heart of Chicago.
Both grandparents crossed the border from Mexico Tuesday morning and were flying in from Texas after being granted a 20-day humanitarian parole by U.S. Customers and Border Protection, according to Contreras.
“They are very anxious to be reunited with their family and see their grandson,” Contreras said.