At this time of year, perhaps more than any other, we want to be confident that the people whom we have charged with caring for our elderly relatives are doing their job properly; unfortunately, for many people, this simply is not the case.
I’ve written before (here and here) about the shocking state of some of our country’s nursing homes, and yet, here again, is another tragic story of nursing home abuse; this time, it led to the homicide of a 77 year old man.
Frank Mercado was partially-sighted and suffering from dementia, and was dependent on the care he received at the University Nursing Home on Grand Avenue, where he’d been living at for the past four years. Last Monday, he was beaten by a member of the nursing staff, Cherrylee Young (41), and as he went down, Mercado fell onto a table, a piece of which broke off and pierced his rectum, leading to internal bleeding, which in turn, led to his death. Young claimed that Mercado had attacked her, and that she was acting in self-defense. Nevertheless, the ME ruled the death as a homicide, and Young was charged with endangering the welfare of an adult, fatal assault, and negligent homicide.
Tragically, this is not the first incident of neglect and abuse to occur under the roof of the 46-bed nursing home in the Bronx: one 86 year old woman suffered a lacerated hand, due to nails protruding from a wardrobe; an 81 year old man – also suffering from dementia – after complaining of shoulder pain was then seen to have developed unexplained bruising on one of his arms. Apparently, no one investigated these injuries.
During the past four years, the state has discovered shortcomings in 19 Life Safety Code areas at the University Nursing Home, which is part of the Centers Health Care consortium. That’s almost twice the national average for the same period.
In 2011, a State Health Department inspection reported that the nursing home had filthy rooms, broken equipment, and that there had been injuries to residents which the home had failed to investigate and properly report for possible abuse.
Between October 2013 and June this year, the nursing home has also received below-par ratings across a number of other benchmarks:
- 74% of residents were shown to have symptoms of depression, compared to 11.7% for the state, and 6.2% nationally.
- 16% of residents, during their stay, lost unacceptable amounts of weight; this figure is almost three times the average for the state, and more than twice the national average.
- 4.8% of residents were permanently catheterized, compared to the state’s 2.6% average.
- 45% of residents had been placed on psychotropic drugs – again, more than twice the national average.
A spokesman for Centers Health Care, Thomas McCartin, has said that the nursing home has an exemplary health care history, which includes a five-star rating from Medicare; however, as recent studies have shown, these ratings rely on self-reported data from the homes themselves – data which is not only misleading but is also not actually verified by the government.
According to national studies, New York State ranks high for incidences of nursing home abuse, neglect, and substandard care. Advocates for vulnerable seniors claim dwindling levels, in recent years, of state enforcement, even in light of the current trend of private businesses buying up nursing homes, and cutting staff in order to achieve greater profit margins.
If you are at all concerned about the level of care your parent or elderly relative is receiving while in a nursing home, or if they have been the victim of nursing home neglect, please don’t hesitate to call Antin, Ehrlich & Epstein LLP on 212-221-5999 to arrange a free consultation. Our expert and sensitive nursing home neglect attorneys are here to discuss this distressing situation, and what action you may be able to take.