Troubleshooter: Death Certificate Problems

LUMBER BRIDGE Danella Cruz brought much joy to her mom and dad for the short 11 years she was in their lives.

"People who saw and met her fell in love with her,” recalled her father Benny Cruz.

She was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at just 13-months-old. She passed away in December.

Shortly after burying Danella, Cruz said they needed her death certificate.

“The funeral home told us they would have it in 3 or 4 days. We had to get her insurance taken care of and also and also there were certain agencies that needed her death certificate,” he said.

But after a week, Benny still didn't have the death certificate so he called Cape Fear Valley Medical Center where she died.

"The doctor on duty that day - the one who declared her dead - was a part time doctor and they had get in touch with him,” Cruz explained.

Cruz said they told him to give them two weeks.

"At two weeks, they said 'We found the doctor and we're going to overnight the paperwork to him' and I said 'No, that's not right.'"

Cruz waited for another week, but when he didn't get the death certificate, he called the Troubleshooter. Diane Wilson got in touch with Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. Cruz said he got a phone call within a day.

“I don't know what you did, but we got a call and they said we're going to give it to the funeral home and you can pick it up,” he recalled.

Cruz now has the death certificate in his hands. It's a piece of closure he said he had to wait too long for.

“I honestly have no doubt that if you wouldn't have gotten involved we'd still be waiting,” he said.

A representative from Cape Fear Medical Center said they sometimes have difficulty getting a patient's physician to sign the death certificate when they have not had recent contact with the patient. Once they were able to get the physician to agree to sign the death certificate, they sent the form overnight express. However they say they did not get the signed certificate back for about three weeks.

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