Daycare provider arrested after infant treated for arm injury

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Hours after bond was set at $100,000 Thursday for Catarina Lopez, 44, a daycare operator charged with child abuse, the state Department of Health and Human Services has ordered her to cease caring for any children who are not her own.

DHHS issued the emergency order Thursday afternoon. According to the department's news release, the state issues such orders whenever it determines immediate action is needed to protect the physical well-being and safety of a child in a child care program.

Lopez, who operates an in-home daycare in southeast Omaha, appeared in court Thursday accused of causing injuries to a 16-month-old in her care. The child was brought to the hospital with a dislocated shoulder after the mother noticed the child was having difficulty holding a bottle and seemed to be in pain, according to court testimony.

Lopez was arrested Tuesday afternoon.

On Jan. 21, police were called to Children’s Hospital to investigate "suspicious injuries" to a 16-month-old, according to a Douglas County Court document. The child had an acute fracture and dislocation of the left arm; she also had multiple fractures to her shoulders, arm, and wrists in various stages of healing, the document states.

A doctor treating the infant said this was consistent with inflicted injury, the report states.

When Lopez was questioned about the injuries, she admitted to forcefully pulling the girl by her arm up from the floor, court documents state. She said the child cried and that she tried to calm the infant down by giving her a bottle, but did not tell the mother — or police, initially — about the injury, the documents state.

According to a letter from the state, dated Jan. 25 and signed by Lopez, she was not to be alone with child-care children until investigations were complete; and that she was to close the daycare if no one age 19 or older could assist her with caring for those children.

Lopez claimed through an attorney that the injury to the child was incurred when several children got into a “dog pile” and she was trying to get the one out. Based on what she told the judge, there were four children in her care at the time of the incident.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for March 15.

Lopez may request a hearing within 15 days of receiving the emergency order. The hearing is held within 10 days of the request, unless a continuance is granted.