A Plymouth woman wants to make sure no one else goes through the same ordeal she did when her husband’s body was picked up from the hospital by the wrong funeral home.
When Cristina De Araujo lost her husband of 23 years, she was heartbroken.
“He was my best friend. He was the one that would make me feel better and vice versa,” said De Araujo.
In March, her husband suffered a seizure at home and was taken to Waterbury Hospital where he later died.
“It’s been tough,” said De Araujo.
The grief-stricken widow contacted a close friend to help with funeral arrangements and he called several funeral homes to get some basic information. De Araujo said she eventually decided on Abbey Cremation Services in Rocky Hill.
“We went over to the funeral home to sign off on all the necessary documentation to authorize the funeral home to pick up my husband at the hospital,” said De Araujo.
Less than 24 hours later, De Araujo received a disturbing phone call from a representative of Abbey telling her someone had already picked up her husband’s body from the hospital.
“I literally was shaking. Who on earth took my husband? Who allowed him to be released?” said De Araujo.
She said she immediately called Waterbury Hospital to find out what happened to her husband’s body.
De Araujo says the hospital told her that Luddy and Peterson’s Funeral Home and Crematory in New Britain had come to get the body and that the funeral home had informed the hospital that they had permission to collect the body.
De Araujo explained to the hospital that Luddy and Peterson’s was the wrong funeral home.
“I’m really annoyed that my husband is on this field trip that he didn’t ask for,” said De Araujo.
De Araujo said Luddy and Peterson apologized profusely and wanted to make it right. She said they told her that her friend authorized removing her husband’s body. De Araujo says that’s not true.
She says she and Luddy and Peterson's agreed to have Abbey pick her husband’s body up from the New Britain funeral home and transport him to Rocky Hill.
“It was just so heart-wrenching to have to go through all that,” said De Araujo.
She reached out to NBC Connecticut Responds because she doesn’t want others to go through what she did.
Luddy and Peterson’s funeral home and crematory declined an on-camera interview.
Instead, co-owner, Ben Peterson, told Responds in a statement:
“We feel horrible over this situation. We dispute the claim by the widow that no family member gave us permission to collect the body. We were under the impression that the informant/family friend was in direct contact with the next of kin. We believe it was a break down in communication.”
As a result of this situation, Peterson says the funeral home is changing its policy to only speak with the next of kin or other family members before removing a loved one from the hospital. They will no longer get consent to release a body from a friend.
Waterbury Hospital told NBC Connecticut Responds that they can’t comment on specific cases but sent us a statement about their policies:
At Waterbury Hospital, we strive to provide high-quality care with dignity and compassion to all our patients and their families. We continually review and revise procedures and practices in order to meet this goal. Patient privacy laws prevent us from commenting on any specific case.
Generally speaking, however, when a patient dies in the hospital, the following steps are taken:
- A family member or representative for the family calls the funeral home of their choice and requests that they handle the arrangements, which includes picking up the deceased from the hospital.
- When the funeral home representative comes to the hospital, s/he asks for the deceased, is presented with and completes paperwork, including who authorized them to come to the hospital, and signs for transferring the patient to the funeral home.
After this occurs, it’s between the family/family representative and the funeral home.
De Araujo wants to make sure it doesn’t happen ever again.