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Identity of body found in San Francisco hospital to be disclosed

October 09, 2013|By Maura Dolan

SAN FRANCISCO -- A San Francisco hospital where a patient vanished more than two weeks ago is scheduled to release a statement Wednesday morning disclosing  the identity of a woman whose body was found Tuesday in an outside stairwell.

San Francisco General Hospital, which is owned by the city, announced it would hold an 11 a.m. news conference regarding the discovery of the body.

A spokesman for the family of Lynne Spalding, 57, the patient who disappeared from her hospital room, said Wednesday that the coroner’s office had yet to inform the family whether the dead woman was Spalding. Spalding has a daughter, 23, and a son, 19.

“I spoke with the the daughter just 20 minutes ago,” said David Perry, the family's spokesman. “She has not had a call from the medical examiner yet.”

Perry said that after speaking with the coroner he had the impression that the body was in poor condition, and DNA testing was needed for identification. The dead woman was found in a stairwell enclosed by wire and exposed to the elements.

Spalding, a British native and longtime San Francisco resident, entered the emergency room of San Francisco General on Sept. 19. Perry said she had lost a great deal of weight and felt ill and went to the hospital at the urging of her daughter, who lived with her.

Spalding is believed to have been diagnosed with a bladder infection or urinary tract infection, the spokesman said. She was discovered missing from her hospital room at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 21. Hospital officials promised a search.

Perry said the San Francisco Sheriff's Department was in charge of hospital security and was responsible for the search. “They did a search, but it must not have been a very good one,” Perry said.

Perry, who owns a public relations firm, said he has done crisis communications for 33 years, “and I have never handled anything like this.”

“The possibility that Lynne was lying out there dead or dying really is the stuff of nightmares,” Perry said.

He said San Francisco General had a “sterling reputation” and that “the hard questions” should go to the sheriff's department.

Spalding, who is divorced, worked in the hospitality industry. Friends described her as ebullient, outgoing and fun-loving. Perry said she went to San Francisco General because it was only blocks from her home.

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Twitter: @mauradolan

maura.dolan@latimes.com

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