Two weeks after her disappearance, San Francisco General Hospital patient Lynn Spalding Ford’s body was discovered in a stairwell by a hospital engineer. Now, police are working to discover what went wrong, and how to keep it from happening again.
San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has apologized for his department’s slow and incomplete search for the woman, and he discussed “preliminary findings” at a press conference Nov. 6 to discuss the investigation.
According to Mirkarimi, it took his department nine days after Spalding was initially reported missing from her hospital room to conduct a hospital-wide search for the 57-year-old patient, according to NBC. Deputies only checked about half of the facility’s stairwells.
Four days later, a hospital staff member told the sheriff’s department that someone had reported seeing a body in a locked stairwell of the building where Spalding had been a patient. There was no indication anyone ever responded.
The sheriff bluntly detailed the flaws of the search: Spalding was once described as a black woman and later as an Asian, when she was in fact a white British woman. An attempt to review video footage from the hospital failed because of hardware problems.
A statement from SF General says that the hospital is taking measures to ensure “what happened to Ms. Spalding… will never happen again,” the article reports.