Indianapolis woman’s baby finally cremated after death certificate delay

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 16, 2015)-- An Indianapolis mother who fought nearly two months to have her daughter cremated finally received closure. Nicole Bonds delivered a stillborn girl in January at St. Vincent Women's Hospital.  But she could not get a doctor to sign the death certificate for her daughter, Eva Lynn.

"My baby needs to rest,” Bonds told FOX59 last week. “There’s no way she should be sitting in the freezer. It’s not fair to anyone.”

Hours after that interview, Bonds got some good news. Leppert Mortuary was able to talk a doctor through the death registration process and get the certificate signed.

"She's here with her mom and I love her and I feel so much better," Bonds said on Monday, showing a small gold box carrying her daughter's remains.

FOX59 discovered Bonds wasn't alone in experiencing a major delay in getting a death certificates.

In the 800 some funerals a year put on by Leppert Mortuary and Crown Hill, about 30%-40% have faced a death certificate delay.

“We’re seeing two to three-month delays in getting the death certificate signed. And that should be done within a seven-day period,” complained Mike Moffitt, Director of Funeral Operations for Leppert Mortuary and Crown Hill. “It’s usually a doctor’s delay.”

Moffitt blames physicians and the Indiana Death Registration System. It was created in 2009 to make it easy for doctors to sign death certificates. However, Moffitt said, it’s only creating delays.

“Doctors could be on vacation for an extended period of time. Or… they’re not familiar with the patient’s medical history,” he explained.

Sometimes, doctors just don’t want their name associated with the death out of fear there may be malpractice lawsuit down the road.

“It’s statewide,” said Moffitt. “We’re at their mercy, just like the families.”

Moffitt said something needs to change.

“It’s very frustrating. We can’t conduct our business without the death certificate.

A spokesman for St. Vincent Women’s Hospital told FOX59, the responsibility of signing the death certificate for Eva Lynn falls on the physicians who delivered her. That doctor is not a St. Vincent employee.

Bonds plans on filing a complaint with the State Medical Licensing Board.

As more families step forward to share their painful experiences, Bonds believes her little girl has started something bigger than she could have ever imagined.

"I felt like that was Eva's purpose," she said. "Make Indiana aware of what's going on and put a... stop to this."

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