CADILLAC, Mich. — Hospital officials are still puzzled about how a baby almost wound up in the wash shortly before the parents arrived to pick up the 3-week-old patient.
After a frantic search, the 8-pound infant was found unharmed under a pile of linen in Mercy Hospital's laundry room. Officials have declined to say how the baby's brief disappearance occurred.
Hospital staff, sheriff's deputies, police and hospital employees joined the 90-minute search for Hilary, who was due to be released after three days of treatment for pneumonia.
When the girl's mother, Deborah Harris, 27, and her husband, Fred, went to the hospital to pick up the infant, hospital officials "wanted to know if I had come in and brought Hilary home," the mother said from her home last week. "I said, 'No. Isn't she in her bed?' "
"I went in and started checking through the room, through the cupboards. Then we started checking the bathrooms and other floors."
Exhausted and harried, the Harrises went to wait in one of the hospital's administrative offices.
"I don't know if there was a knock on the door or what," Deborah Harris told the Detroit Free Press. "Someone came to the door and said she's been found. They said, 'Here she comes now'. . . . I just grabbed her. That's all I wanted."
Officials are still investigating how the infant got into the laundry.
"I guess (the employee who found her) lifted a pile of linens and she was just there, looking up at him," said the mother.
The Harris family doctor examined Hilary after the episode and said she had suffered only cold hands and feet.
"I held on to her," Deborah Harris said. "I didn't want to let her go."