Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"He’s a ward of the state, so who cares?"

Police have arrested a former health care worker in connection with the 2007 homicide of a cerebral palsy patient, a case that almost ended with no investigation into the victim’s unexpected death and his burial just days later in a pauper’s grave.

Walter Small is charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of Robert A. Young on Nov. 12, 2007. Authorities booked the defendant into the Hamilton County Jail after a grand jury indicted him. He was released on a $5,000 bond.

Mr. Young’s family members initially questioned the circumstances of his death, which took place while he was living at the Health Center at Standifer Place. Mr. Small worked in the center as a certified nursing assistant.

Authorities eventually exhumed Mr. Young’s body last summer, and the autopsy performed one year after his death indicated Mr. Young died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Court documents state: after Mr. Young’s death, “Standifer Place told each person, on each call, that (Mr. Young) was OK, and to come see him.”

Attorney Robin Flores, who is representing the family, said that Adult Protective Services, the Department of Human Services agency that had legal guardianship of Mr. Young, also did not respond to Erlanger hospital’s repeated attempts to find Mr. Young’s family. Instead, the agency simply made arrangements for Mr. Young to be buried at Ruth Cofer cemetery after he died at Erlanger hospital about a week after being sent there from Standifer Place with a fractured skull.

Mr. Flores said at the time he filed the $35 million wrongful death suit against Standifer Place on behalf of Mr. Young’s family: "It was like, Just bury the guy. He’s a ward of the state, so who cares?"

Full Article and Source:
Chattanooga: Man charged in death of nursing home patient

More information:
Arrest Made in Death of Nursing Home Patient

Nursing home aide surrenders on homicide charge


Anonymous said...

I don't think this is uncommon. When we requested human rights intervention for our loved one, they issued their report 3 years after her death. The recommendation was 'education for the facility'.

When we requested an investigation for financial abuse, the Crimes Against Senior Investigator responded, "maybe they gave it away".

Elder advocacy is for appearances only.

Anonymous said...

This is a horriffic tragedy and I feel badly for the Young family.

But, it also strikes me that the phrase "criminally negligent" applies to most abusive guardianships/conservatorships. Not all, but most.

Anonymous said...

"He's a ward of the state, so who cares?" is a sentiment that most lawyers have toward wards. Wards are expendable - they are nameless and faceless.

It's a sad, sad statement about our society.

Anonymous said...

I am steaming mad, no respect for human life, no respect for the family, oh, that's right the murder victim is a ward of the state.

WAKE UP AMERICA better get ready this could be YOUR story!

Anonymous said...

This is another example warning people that they really don't know APS and that a call made in the spirit of helping someone can turn deadly.

Anonymous said...

It is sickening how this man was treated and the suffering he went through. And, I think no one did care. Or didn't care enough.

Very sad.

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to the family. How can those who are educated, skilled and paid to provide care to the disabled do such horrible things to their patients? How could the State Agency cover up these crimes to allow other patients to be abused?

There are too many management and supervisory problems with State run
facilities to provide. Clearly, State Governments should be Monitoring and Regulating heathcare facilities and not be in the business of providing care

helensniece said...

When our family member died from carbon monoxide exposure due to negligent landlord our attorney told us since the victim was 87 years old she lived over the average age on the charts so there wasn't any worth to her life.

I remember sitting there stunned, totally shocked that this is how a person is valued welcome to America.

The lawyers words stay with me every day for almost 10 years.