Man Dies At Hands Of New York Nursing Home Employee
In mid-December, a 77-year-old man, Frank Mercado, met a violent death at the hands of a nursing home employee at University Nursing Home in New York. The employee who knocked him down, Cherrylee Young, 41, was charged by the Bronx district attorney’s office with criminally negligent homicide, fatal assault, and endangering the welfare of an adult.
Mercado, who was vision-impaired and suffering from dementia, got into a fight with Young after a disagreement about his getting out of bed. Witnesses said that during the incident they needed to pull the two apart. Young knocked Mercado to the ground, and in the fall he was impaled by a sharp metal sticking out from an overturned table. Mercado died hours later at the hospital.
University is a small, 46-bed nursing home, but it is one of 25 nursing and rehabilitation homes owned by Centers Health Care. It boasts a 5-star rating from Medicare.gov – a rating attained by only one-fifth of the country’s nursing homes – but it has faced a number of safety code deficiencies in the past few years.
Medicare nursing home ratings
Five years ago, Medicare adopted a star rating system for nursing homes – much like hotel ratings. The 20% of nursing homes that, like University, have received a five-star rating are considered by Medicare to be far above average quality. But critics argue that the ratings are seriously flawed, being based mainly on unverified self-reports from the nursing homes. At the same time, the ratings fail to take into consideration fines and penalties from state agencies or consumer complaints.
State violations and complaints apparently slipped through the cracks when Medicare issued its five-star rating to University Nursing Home; in the past four years, the state had issued 19 life safety code violations, nearly twice the state average. Tellingly, nearly three quarters of University’s residents suffered symptoms of depression, compared to under 12% across the State of New York and about 6% nationwide. In fact, 45% of University’s residents began taking psychotropic drugs for the first time while at the home, which is more than twice the national average.
Richard Mollot, who serves as executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition, points to staffing shortages as a problem leading to neglect and elder abuse. A shortage of staff puts “enormous pressure” on the staff of a nursing home, making it a ripe place for abuse. He points to the ownership as responsible in paving the way, pointing out that the owner of University is known in the business for stepping into facilities and cutting staff.
Speak with New York nursing home abuse lawyers
Nursing home abuse often leads to a host of emotions, including fear and vulnerability by the victim and anger and guilt from the victim’s family over the inability to prevent it. But there is still recourse for victims under the law.
If you or a loved one have been the victim, call a New York nursing home abuse lawyer at The Sanders Firm as soon as possible. You may be entitled to recover damages against the abusive caregiver or the nursing home itself. The Sanders Firm has been winning personal injury and medical malpractice cases for nearly 50 years and will evaluate your claim for free – you never pay us unless we win money on your behalf. For your no-obligation consultation, call 1-800-FAIR-PLAY. Resources
- New York Times, Death in Bronx Shows Vulnerability of State’s Nursing Home Residents, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/16/nyregion/death-in-bronx-shows-vulnerability-of-states-nursing-home-residents.html?_r=0
- CBS New York, Bronx Nursing Home Aide Charged in Death of 77-Year-Old Patient, http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/12/15/bronx-nursing-home-aide-charged-in-death-of-77-year-old-patient/
- Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, Adverse Events in Skilled Nursing Facilities: National Incidence Among Medicare Beneficiaries, http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-06-11-00370.pdf
- National Institute of Health, Responding to Poor Quality Care during Research in Nursing Homes, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2932828/