By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
In a December 28th press release, Eric Schneiderman, the Attorney General of New York, announced the arrest of two registered nurses and a certified nurse aide in connection with the death of an 81-year-old ventilator dependent resident of the A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility in Uniondale, NY.
According to the press release
The resident, whose identity is being kept confidential, lived on a specialized ventilator unit at the facility. She required a mechanical ventilator to breathe and was entirely dependent on the nursing staff; the resident passed away after the defendants failed to respond to the ventilator alarms. If convicted, the defendants, none of whom still work at the facility, each face up to seven years in prison.
“These allegations paint a picture of blatant neglect that ultimately resulted in the death of a patient,”
“My office will always hold accountable those medical professionals and others who knowingly ignore a patient’s basic needs or recklessly place any nursing home resident in a life-threatening situation.”
The media release described the case:
The complaint alleges that on the morning of December 20, 2015, the resident–who was wheelchair bound and ventilator dependent–became disconnected from her ventilator. The resident was unable to breathe without the assistance of her mechanical ventilator. A visual and audible alarm was immediately triggered which notified nursing staff on the floor that this resident was in an emergency, life-threatening situation.
Sijimole Reji, Annieamma Augustine and Martine Morland were at the nursing station near the resident’s room when the alarm sounded throughout the unit. All nursing staff who work on the ventilator unit at A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility are required to immediately respond to resident ventilator alarms. These three defendants–Reji, Augustine and Morland–ignored the emergency ventilator alarm for more than nine minutes and failed to provide any assistance to the resident who languished without oxygen.
Eventually, when staff entered her room, they discovered that the resident was unresponsive and unconscious. The resident was transported from A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility to Nassau University Medical Center, where she died the following day, December 21, 2015.
Deaths and abuse in care homes is not uncommon. Recently a nurse was charged in the deaths of eight people who lived in care homes in Woodstock and London Ontario.
The victim’s life was in the hands of her care-givers. Data from Belgium shows that a significant number of lives are ended each year without request. Usually these people are incompetent or completely dependent on their care-givers.