ONLY ON 3: Was it a mistake or miscommunication, that sent a baby's body home in a cooler?
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Melvina Brown gave birth to a premature baby on Sunday.
The boy she named Tristan died, and hours later, Brown was released from Erlanger, with her son's remains in a styrofoam cooler.
Erlanger says Brown was given choices and denies any wrongdoing at all.
Still, Brown says she's lost faith in the system.
"Hell yes it made things worse! I'm sorry but it hurts. I mean, that's not right at all, the care that they did. I mean, I was so screwed up in the head, of course. My baby was already dead. And I don't trust Erlanger facility. I'm sorry. I don't," she says.
Medical forms indicate Erlanger has a checklist for dealing with mothers who deliver stillborns, or whose babies die shortly after birth.
Administrators say Brown got one-on-one care.
In hindsight, both hospital and patient may have been better served, if each had more people in the room.
Brown spends Wednesday morning planning making arrangements.
Chattanooga's Advantage Funeral Home is performing baby Tristan's services free-of-charge.
"Concerning my child, I'm at peace," she says. "Because he gets to rest in peace. But as far as Erlanger, and how they handled things? No!"
As Channel 3 Eyewitness News first reported Monday, Brown took baby Tristan's body home from Erlanger in a cooler. She maintains that her attending nurse told her she had no choice.
"She came back and she told me, by him having a heartbeat that they couldn't keep him."
Tennessee law allows hospitals to dispose of remains when a fetus is delivered stillborn, but prohibits them from doing so if a baby dies after birth.
"Nobody told her she had to take the baby home," Erlanger Vice President Doug Fisher says. "This is what this woman chose to do! She had total free choice to leave that child in our hospital."
Fisher says Brown's medical forms make she could have left baby Tristan's body in Erlanger's morgue, requested pathology tests, or released him to a funeral director.
Initialing and the word 'error' indicate that a nurse circled 'funeral director'; then changed it to 'release to parent.'
Brown asserts that she was in no position to think clearly.
"I was sedated a bit," she says. "I was under a lot of medication."
"If she was confused, and if she felt like she was not making a good decision, she had two patient advocates with her," Fisher counters.
Brown insists those advocates--her mother, and baby Tristan's father, Marcus Davis -- weren't around when the nurse reviewed the process with her.
"If they would have given me the chance to be able to say 'well, my boyfriend or my mother or my sister is gonna sign the papers for me', I'd have had no problem with that," she says.
Brown's medical record indicates Erlanger has a checklist governing the grief process. Her nurse's signature indicates that she saw and held baby Tristan after delivery, but that she declined Erlanger offer of pastoral care, and a baptism.
Such protocols appear similar to those of competitor Parkridge Health System.
"It is our policy in cases of stillbirth or death of a baby to hold the baby's body at our facility until we understand the wishes of the family and written consent is given for those wishes to be carried out," writes Parkridge marketing specialist Allison Counts. "We inform the family of all available options, and social services are contacted as needed to assist with final arrangements for their child. We also offer grief counseling services for parents who have suffered a loss."
"We are deeply, deeply sorry for Miss Brown's loss," Fisher says.
Brown says she's grateful for that. But that's not why she's hurting.
"Your nurses and doctor's didn't do their job right," she claims. "They didn't take the time with me, to see that I was okay."
Brown's family has opted for a graveside service for baby Tristan. It will be held at 1PM Saturday, at the Memorial Duck Pond in Red Bank.