Man sneaks into hospital and bottle feeds baby, police say

Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 12:33 AM MST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) - A total stranger walked into the neonatal intensive care unit at an Iowa hospital and bottle-fed a baby who wasn’t his, according to police.

Des Moines Police are trying to identify a man they say got into MercyOne medical center around midnight Dec. 28 by pretending to be the father of a baby. He slipped by a nurse, bottle-fed a baby in the NICU and then left.

“The family, obviously, is very frightened. This is something that would startle any parent,” said Police Sgt. Paul Parizek.

Police say the man, seen on surveillance video, was trespassing, but what they don’t know is why he did what he did.

“This is definitely something new to all of us. When we think about child-stealing or predators, this is not how they behave or at least how we’re familiar with them behaving,” Parizek said. “In this case, there was absolutely no harm done to the child and, on the surface, no intent to commit any other crime beyond what he did to get in there.”

Thomas Slater, a lawyer that deals with medical malpractice cases, says the hospital has a duty of care to babies in the NICU, and an unidentified person claiming to be a parent should not have been allowed in.

“I would think there would be some precaution in place to reasonably ensure the person wanting access to the NICU is authorized,” he said.

Slater adds that the baby being fed and the other babies in the NICU were put in danger when the man entered the unit.

MercyOne called the incident “extremely troubling” in a statement and says it has since expanded security by reeducating NICU staff and security, increasing identification checks and sign-in logs and increasing security and staffing in the NICU.

Police say they want to find the man and figure out what his motive was.

“We don’t know what his true intent was or what he was planning on doing further down the road. We need to get him identified, so we can at least hear his side of the story and have our investigators better understand what was going on,” Parizek said.

Police say MercyOne is cooperating with their investigation.

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