Katie Alice Ripstra, 31, is charged with injury to a child. Investigators say Ripstra poisoned her daughter with dangerous levels of salt in liquid form by a feeding tube beginning in 2011, and then brought the child to the hospital where she worked for treatment.
In one treatment visit in 2013 to Texas Children's Hospital, where Ripstra worked, the child was unconscious and had suffered a brain injury as a result of the unusually high level of salt in her body, Lt. Ruben Diaz of the HCSO Criminal Investigations Bureau said. The child recovered after treatment that included three days in an intensive care unit. It was one of the child's four or more stays in that hospital in 2013.
"I have children of my own. I have grandchildren of my own. It's horrible," Lt. Diaz said. "We expect parents to be the safeguards of their children."
He also said there is no indication that other children were hurt and no evidence that another one of the girl's parents was involved in poisoning her.
Texas Children's Hospital released a statement on Ripstra on Thursday. It reads: "We are aware that a former Texas Children's employee is being charged in this case. At this point, this is in the court's hands and we cannot comment on the case. We can confirm the individual in question was terminated from Texas Children's Hospital. Unfortunately, due to the confidential nature of employment matters, we cannot share details on why this action was taken. What we can tell you is that Texas Children's Hospital values our employees and the important work they accomplish each day in keeping our patients safe and healthy. At this time, it would be inappropriate for the hospital to provide additional comment related to this issue."
Ripstra is free on a $30,000 bail bond pending trial. She does not have custody of her child, and Children's Protective Services is involved in the investigation.
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