NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. - - Four days after a 7 Eyewitness News investigation revealed instances of neglect at Niagara Rehabilitation and Nursing, a family is outraged -- because they say their Uncle Jerry died a needless death there this past weekend.
“Yes, he was neglected and that’s why we called you," said Tonya Smith, a niece of the dead patient. "He was very much neglected, because if they would have taken my uncle to the hospital, he might still be right here, alive. They neglected my uncle, yes they did.”
Jerry Carroll was a big man, but his family says the 64-year-old retired factory worker was otherwise in good health.
He was sent to the nursing home four months ago with orders to lose weight so that he could have both of his knees replaced.
“That’s the only reason he was in here," said his other niece, Kimberly Faison. "It isn’t like he had health problems. He was a diabetic -- that’s about it.”
But the family says last week, Uncle Jerry started to complain of constipation that was so bad, it brought this bear of a man to tears.
“They refused to take him to the hospital," Smith said. "They said if you feel better in the morning, then we’ll take you.”
But Uncle Jerry never made it that long. By the time his family came to see the body the next morning, they say he had a brown substance seeping out of his mouth.
“I talked to some of the employees in here, I asked them, ‘What was my uncle saying?’" Smith said. "[The nursing home worker] said he threw up yesterday and it was brown. He said, ‘Tanya, it looked to me like bowel.”
Family members claim their uncle’s fecal matter may have been so backed up that it came out of his mouth.
And while there’s no definitive cause of death at this point, a doctor did confirm to us that this condition -- called fecal emesis -- can happen in cases of prolonged constipation.
“It’s a shame, because it’s neglect,” Faison said.
Family members are upset at the nursing staff for other issues, like the dirt they say was caked behind their uncle’s legs, and at this man: the nursing home’s assistant administrator who interrupted our interview and told us to leave the property.
That resulted in a confrontation between the grieving family and the nursing home official.
While the administrator declined an interview, the nursing home’s new public relations firm put out a statement saying that “appropriate care and treatment were provided to the resident. There is no reason to believe that the resident’s passing was caused by anything but natural causes.”
Carroll’s other niece, Sherrie Faison, isn’t buying it.
And the fact that the State Health Department has opened a new investigation doesn’t give her much comfort.
“I worked here for eight-and-a-half-years. I left here in 2007," Sherrie Faison said. "When I was here, I’ve seen so many abused residents, so much neglect. Even when I worked here I called the state on them a few times. Whenever the state does come up here, they cover themselves up.”
“I mean, how many times does somebody have to jump out of a window?" she added. "How many times does the state need to come in here? These people are not getting the care that they should be getting. This is ridiculous.”
Do you have a nursing home that you think needs to be investigated? Email Charlie Specht at email@example.com.