SPOKANE, Wash. -All a Spokane Valley family wants is their late loved one's jewelry. They said it's vanished after it was removed at the hospital where she passed.
Marlee Weinstock Watkins was just 41-years-old when she died. Her father said her health deteriorated fast after a blood clot was discovered on her liver. On July 5th, her loving husband, parents and other family members said their final goodbye.
"I realize there is a hole now that will never go away," her father Harold told KHQ. "She touched so many people's lives."
When Marlee arrived at Sacred Heart Providence, her family said she was wearing three pairs of earrings. One were diamond studs, the other topaz and the third garnet. She was also wearing a large amber ring that belonged to her late grandmother.
After Marlee passed, the hospital asked her husband to come pick up her belongings. Harold said he was just too overwhelmed with grief, he couldn't do it.
"At the time, he was so distraught," Harold said. "He said, 'I can't go back there. Can you just mail it.'"
Sacred Heart Providence staff said yes, and that they did. But days passed, then weeks, with no jewelry.
"Being retired, I told (my son-in-law) that I'd handle it," he said.
But instead, Harold said he's just found more questions than answers.
"I was told it was collected, placed in a denture container I believe, and then placed in a white envelope in bubble wrap and mailed," he said. "I asked if it was mailed with tracking or registered mail. She said no."
And because there was tracking number or receipt associated with the mail, no one knows where those precious items are now. Harold said, it's a loss within a loss. He contacted our Hayley Guenthner in hopes that the hospital will change the way they do things.
"I'm not seeking any compensation," he said. "The monetary value of those items are insignificant to me. Accountability and an apology would be nice."
KHQ reached out to Providence and received the following statement:
"Hayley, thank you for your efforts to help the Weinstock and Watkins family recover items belonging to their loved one. We offer our deepest sympathy on the loss of their daughter/wife, Marlee.
The purpose of this email is to address the family’s request to make changes to our existing policies; specifically, to include that all valuables mailed to patients and families be sent in a way that would allow the hospital and patient/family to track the package.
For the vast majority of incidences when valuables are left behind, an identified family member will return to the hospital, provide identification, and sign to claim the items. When that isn’t possible, the hospital has procedures in place to address how items will be sent. While the current policy does not call for items to be sent via certified mail, it is a common practice followed by Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children’s Hospital. Items are collected and secured by staff, and held in a secure location until staff can return the items using the most appropriate method, including certified mail, on the next business day.
In this instance involving the Weinstock/Watkins family, a request was granted to mail the items immediately, rather than waiting for the next business day. In our desire to comply with the family’s wishes, our standard practice was not followed, and the result is both unfortunate and regrettable. Providence continues to work with the family to find a satisfactory solution.
As a result of this incident, policy changes will be considered."
Marlee's family denies that they requested the items to be mailed out immediately.
If you have any information on where these items are, get in touch with us and we can connect you with her family.