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Oct 21, 2009 11:52 AM by sleonard

Eunice family seeks answers in bodies switched

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A Eunice family is search for answers after discovering that the bodies of their mother and another women were picked up from a hospital by the wrong funeral homes, and
their mother's body was mistakenly cremated.
Kenneth Joseph said his 58-year-old mother, Ruby, died of a heart attack Oct. 7.
Joseph said neither his family nor the funeral homes were aware of the mistake until Friday. That's when Joseph family members arrived at Raphael & Sons Funeral Home in Jennings to view Ruby
Joseph's body before services scheduled for Saturday.
The family is trying to recover their mother's ashes, but without luck.
The other funeral home involved, Kinchen Funeral Home of Lafayette, has not returned calls from the Joseph family or Paul Cox, their attorney, Cox said.
He said a lawsuit is likely, but would not provide more details.
"At this point, we're still gathering information," Cox said.
Kenneth Joseph said the family was told the woman mistaken for his mother was Rose Alex. A family member at Alex's Lafayette home Tuesday said she was unable to comment about the situation. The
woman identified herself as Alex's sister.
Lafayette General Medical Center conducted its own investigation when notified this weekend of the mix-up, according to a statement issued by David Callecod, the hospital's president and chief
executive officer.
Both bodies were properly identified with ID bracelets, toe tags and ID stickers on the body bags, Callecod said.
He said Raphael Funeral Home representatives arrived to pick up Ruby Joseph at 8:40 a.m. Oct. 7. Per protocol, the funeral home representative was met with a hospital security officer who watched
as the representatives "seemed to check the identification of both bodies in the morgue and retrieve the deceased," Callecod stated.
Kinchen Funeral Home representatives arrived at 4:14 p.m. Oct. 7 to pick up Rose Alex, according to the statement. The security officer was there to oversee the process.
But the tags weren't checked, Victor Raphael of Raphael & Sons said by phone Tuesday.
"I accepted responsibility in not checking the name tags," said Raphael.
The hospital was able to confirm the decedent at Raphael's funeral home was properly banded and tagged, Callecod said.
"We have every reason to believe that Ms. Joseph had proper identification as well, though her identification was destroyed," Callecod said.
Raphael said his calls to Kinchen Funeral Home to recover Alex's body have not been returned.
In light of the incident, Lafayette General has changed its protocol in the morgue. Now, at least two hospital employees will oversee the process and provide verification before a funeral home
removes a deceased patient.
Kenneth Joseph said his family plans to ensure that another family doesn't suffer through the same mistake.
"It could have been a Johnson family. This could have happened to a Robertson family," Kenneth Joseph said. "We don't want this to happen again."


--- Information from: The Advocate, http://www.2theadvocate.com
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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