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'What do you mean you don't have my father?' Local man's remains sent to wrong funeral home

Posted at 6:10 PM, Feb 06, 2020

A local family is suing Froedtert after their father's remains were sent to the wrong funeral home.

Ronald Hrobsky died suddenly of a heart attack in October.

"He had a massive heart attack and had passed," Dawn Robarge, his daughter said. "It was chaos."

As they started to grieve, Robarge said a registered nurse at Froedtert's Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls helped console them. That nurse also took information from them on how they'd like to proceed with funeral arrangements.

"I told [the nurse], we're probably picking Phillip Funeral Home," Robarge said. "But I'll call you and let you know what we decide. She said, don't worry about it. That's not something to worry about until Monday morning when they come and get him."

Robarge went home and contacted Phillip Funeral Home in West Bend. She says they were not able to work with the cemetery where her father was to be interred. So she went with a funeral home suggested by the cemetery.

"Peace of Mind was first on the list," Robarge said. She called the hospital to update them.

"I said, we did not pick Phillip's," Robarge said. "I was very specific. I said, do you need me to do anything else? She said, no. From here, we'll speak to Peace of Mind and make sure this is taken care of. I said, great. That ended what I
thought was my responsibility with the hospital and what I'm supposed to do to ensure my father was getting to where he needed to go."

Two days later, Robarge went to the funeral home in West Milwaukee to finalize everything but she said something wasn't right.

"I heard a gentleman coming up the stairs and he was mad," Robarge said. "He's saying, they don't have the body."

Robarge thought they were talking about another family until one of the employees came to talk to her.

"She said, Dawn, I'm very sorry to tell you but we do not have your father's remains," Robarge said. "This feeling in the pit of my stomach, what do you mean you don't have my father?"

She learned the hospital had released her father's body to Phillip Funeral Home in West Bend. The mix-up caused her to feel like she had failed her father.

"It's been my job to do what my parents asked of me, which was to please take care of things for us," Robarge said. "But when something like this happens to you, I don't know how to reconcile with it."

Robarge says she never received a call from the hospital about the mistake. Her father was eventually brought to the West Milwaukee funeral home but his funeral was delayed by nearly two weeks.

Froedtert declined an interview due to pending litigation. However, they sent a letter to Robarge, which she shared with TODAY'S TMJ4.

The Director of Nursing Administration apologized and explained what happened.

"Initially Phillips Funeral Home was identified to serve your family at this difficult time, and they were contacted. A little later, you talked with your father's nurse, Kaylee, in the Emergency Department and informed her you had decided to have Peace of Mind Funeral Home serve your family instead; this occurred at approximately 3:17 p.m. I was able to speak with Kaylee who stated that it was confirmed in her conversation with you that Philips had been notified of your wishes. After speaking with you, she called Sara at Peace of Mind to confirm with them she had talked with you and see if there was anything they would need from her. Sara was not available but would call back with questions if she had any. Kaylee did later notify the Administrative Supervisor of this change so that Security and the accompanying paperwork could be corrected; this occurred at about 4:45 p.m. Upon follow-up it was identified that Phillips Funeral Home came at 4:40 p.m."

The letter from Froedtert continued, "I want to assure you that this is taken very seriously to prevent this from occurring to another family."

However, Robarge says she was never told anything about what protocols would be reviewed or steps to be taken to ensure a mistake like this doesn't happen again.

Robarge says this has nothing to do with money, but just to make sure she pays respects to her dad.

"If I had the opportunity to talk to my dad again, he'd say, it's alright Dawn," Robarge said. "I do believe he'd say that. I did everything I could. I did what I should have done. I didn't avoid phone calls. I didn't avoid talking to people. I faced every one of these things knowing that I did this out of respect for him. He asked me to do this when he no longer could."

Robarge says, if they win the suit, any money that is recouped will go towards creating a scholarship in her father's name.

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