Two Amish women who were arrested earlier this year after police learned they were serving as midwives without any certifications or formal training have avoided jail time.
Sylvia C. Eicher, 74, and Lydiann S. Schwartz, 73, were each handed two years probation and ordered not to practice midwifery or medicine by an Adams County judge Friday. Both pleaded guilty last month to Level 6 felony Practicing Midwifery without a License.
It was early May when Eicher and Schwartz were arrested for illegally practicing medicine and administering medication to mothers and babies. At the time, Eicher told NewsChannel 15 that she has been delivering babies for 37 years, and said she and Schwartz taught themselves how. Eicher claims they have delivered thousands of babies in the Amish community.
Police said the woman administered veterinary medicine to women during during child birth, and at least one child died after their care.
On May 10, 2017, police were notified about a 14-day-old newborn that was rushed to Adams Memorial Hospital who later died. The Adams County Coroner said the baby died of congenital heart disease; a small hole was found in the child’s heart.
The baby’s parents told police that they’d received prenatal care from Schwartz, and the baby was born at Schwartz’s home, the affidavit said.
Schwartz told police that the baby stayed with her for four hours after it was born, and she said the infant “seemed normal” after it was delivered, the affidavit said. She said the infant was grunting but through a stethoscope she said she did not hear a “murmur or swishing” in the baby’s heart, the affidavit said.
Schwartz told police that three days after the delivery, the baby returned to her home for a Phenylketonuria test to check for “proper enzymes” which involved a “heel stick,” the affidavit said. The child’s mother also said Schwartz gave her an IV during delivery to “speed up the process,” the affidavit said.
Schwartz described the IV to police as a “veterinary ‘pit,’” or Pitocin, according to the affidavit.
Police asked Schwartz if she’d been medically certified and she said a Willshire, Ohio doctor taught her how to give IVs, the affidavit said.
The child’s mother and father said they paid Schwartz $550, which also included check-ups, the affidavit said.
Police recovered syringes from the Schwartz’s home, the affidavit said.
May 2017, police received a tip about a pregnant Amish woman who had been taken to Adams Memorial Hospital the day before for high blood pressure and a severe headache. While under care there, the woman told her doctor that she’d received two injections from Eicher, who she said was not a midwife but rather a “mother’s helper,” according to a probable cause affidavit.
Eicher is not licensed and cannot administer prescription drugs or injections.
Police then went to the woman’s home. There, she told police that earlier in the week, she woke up with swelling in her legs, and her husband said she should go to Eicher’s home for treatment. The woman said Eicher directed her to go to the hospital, where doctors induced labor at 33 weeks, the affidavit said.
Police then asked about the injections. The woman said Eicher had given her injections on two different occasions “for the baby’s lungs” previously and she was not aware of the name of the medication, the affidavit said.
Police went to a building Eicher used as a clinic of sorts and found Eicher and her husband there. Eicher told police she “may have (given injections) and she didn’t remember,” the affidavit said. Eicher said she sees “so many women that she didn’t remember,” the affidavit said.
Eventually, Eicher admitted to the injections, according to the affidavit. She told investigators that she gives “vet medicine” injections in the hip area to help “mature the lungs.”
Police found various medical supplies at the building including five sealed syringes, the affidavit said.
In court Friday, Prosecutor Jeremy Brown asked for 6 months in jail due to the severity of the cases. Brown argued the cases set a slippery slope and said both Eicher and Schwartz were told multiple times by law enforcement to stop.
Brown said there was an “intentional ignorance” and the prosecutor argued the court needed to protect babies.
Six people spoke on behalf of Eicher and Schwartz, including the mother of the baby who died. That woman said she did not blame the women. Another 42-year-old man said Eicher was present at his own birth, and said over four decades, Eicher and Schwartz have been delivering babies for at least four decades and delivered about 4,000 babies.
More than 100 people attended the sentencing hearing, with dozens more waiting outside the courtroom.