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State DOH: Emerald South knew patient had history of removing window safety screws

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Emerald South Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center failed to ensure a safe environment for its residents in early June, when patient William Strasner died after trying to escape from a third-story window, state records show.

The records obtained by News 4 show Emerald South employees knew about Strasner's tendency to remove screws from his windows -- and they did nothing to prevent it.

The windows of Emerald South include screws that prevent them from being opened beyond six inches.

That includes the windows in William Strasner's room on the third floor.

Public records show the 87-year-old Strasner repeatedly removed those screws -- and members of the maintenance staff knew that.

The window screws were not in place at around 8 a.m. on June 4, when Strasner tried to escape his third floor window using a rope that he fashioned out of bed sheets. Strasner fell, and records show he died on the way to the hospital.

“The facility failed to ensure the residents' environment remained as free of accident hazards as possible, and failed to have a system in place to effectively respond to significant reported concerns,” according to the statement of deficiency related to Strasner’s death. “The director of maintenance reported to the interdisciplinary team that a resident, who resided on the third floor of the facility repeatedly removed screws that prevented the window in his room from opening beyond six inches. The facility failed to implement appropriate interventions and supervision to ensure the resident's safety.”

It's not the first time the Delaware Avenue facility has been cited by the state for such a serious violation that led to a patient's death.

In 2016, Ruth Murray was beaten to death by another dementia patient.

The nursing home was fined $10,000 by the state department of health as a result of Murray's death -- and a News4 investigation that included patient records obtained by the station showed the staff at Emerald South knew Murray's attacker had a violent past.

News 4 reached out to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to see whether this latest patient death at Emerald South would be enough to revoke the facility’s ability to collect Medicaid and Medicare. If that happens, it could ultimately lead to the nursing home's closure, as more than 85 percent of their income is made that way.

 


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