Authorities this morning identified the woman's body that was found in the San Francisco General Hospital stairwell as 57-year-old Lynne Ford, who went by Lynne Spalding, a patient who had gone missing from her hospital bed two weeks ago.
Staff at San Francisco General found Spalding's body yesterday in an exterior stairwell that they said was rarely used. Horrified family members gathered at the hospital as they waited for hours to get confirmation that it was in fact Spalding, a mother of two.
"While the medical examiner will make the final determination of identity, we have enough information to conclude at this time it was Ms. Spalding Ford," hospital staff said in a statement. "We do not know how she came to be in the stairwell, how long she had been there, or what caused her death."
Spalding was found yesterday morning in the exterior stairwell that is not routinely used by staff, patients, or the public. An engineer found her body as he was doing regular maintenance in the area. The door has an alarm and locks from the outside, and the stairs lead to an exit on the ground floor of the hospital, said Rachel Kagan, spokeswoman for SFGH.
Spalding was admitted into the hospital on Sept. 19 for an infection after she had surgery. She had been taking medication that made her disoriented, however, staff had reportedly been checking on her every 15 minutes. But on Sept. 21, Spalding vanished from her room and was never seen or heard from again. The hospital staff says it combed the campus looking for her, but were unable to locate Spalding, who was then classified as a missing person.
"Nothing like this has happened before -- this is without precedent," SFGH said in a statement.