Nursing home abuse is not the only cause of patient deaths in care facilities. Sometimes staff ignore or overlook residents’ needs or cries for help. This kind of nursing home neglect is what allegedly lead to the death of Californian Charles Morrill in 2009.
The Glendale News Press reported that the Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre was indicted for abuse and nursing home neglect after Mr. Morrill killed himself by discharging a fire extinguisher in his mouth. This was the fourth suicide attempt he made and the third attempt involving a fire extinguisher. After being hospitalized and treated he was sent back to the nursing facility. His attempts all occurred over a period of approximately a month and ended when he asphyxiated himself.
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The facility was reportedly not prepared or able to care for patients who suffered from mental illness. The former administrator, Phyllis Paver, allegedly knew Mr. Morrill had previously attempted suicide and still allowed him to live at the facility. The local police reported difficulties with the facility in the past including patient walkouts, theft and assaults.
In this situation there was an established pattern of behavior that went ignored. The facility was ill-equipped to treat Mr. Morrill, allegedly leading to nursing home neglect and ultimately his death. His symptoms and their causes went untreated. He still had access to the very thing that he had previously used in a suicide attempt.
As a nursing home neglect lawyer, I work to help those who have suffered from this indignity and hopefully prevent tragedies like Mr. Morrill’s death. While the way Mr. Morrill died is unusual, the kind of nursing home neglect described is not. Some elder care homes put profits over people. They do this by accepting people they are not equipped to care for. I guess they figure the money they make from allowing such people to stay at their facility is worth the risk.