Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Two Suicides in Five Days at Belmont
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Two patients at a Philadelphia behavioral hospital committed suicide in a five day period, according to a court suit and an inspection report by Pennsylvania Health Department.
The deaths on April 24 and April 29 of last year occurred at the Belmont Behavioral Hospital, part of Acadia Healthcare, a Tennessee based company.
In the April 24 death, which was detailed in a health department inspection report, the patient hung himself in an area that was supposed to be free of fixtures that could be used for ligatures.
The April 29 death involved Jerry W. Gates, 59, a patient who was transferred to Belmont following treatment at a Chester County hospital for dizziness and reporting that "he was hearing voices telling him to harm himself."
The suit charges that despite the diagnosis Belmont determined he "presented a low risk of suicide" and suicide precautions were not provided.
The suit charges Belmont and its parent company Acadia Healthcare with negligence and wrongful death. In a 19-page answer Belmont and Acadia denied any negligence or liability.
The complaint charges that Gates was able to wander from room to room without any supervision and he was not provided with medication for his known insomnia.
The suit adds that he was found at 4:10 a.m.lying on the floor "bleeding profusely from gaping wounds of the neck caused by a portion of a picture on the wall with which he stabbed his neck.
The suit charges that the facility lacked sufficient and appropriately trained staff.
Acadia, the complaint states, was a direct participant and exercised corporate control over Belmont.
Calling the care provided "a gross deviation from accepted standards of care," the complaint charges the defendants with "flagrant and gross negligence."
In their answer, the defendants acknowledged that Gates was found bleeding from a neck wound. but denied he was found lying on the floor or that he died on the way to a hospital.
"It is specifically denied that Gates was not supervised and was allowed to roam freely without any supervision," the answer states, adding that "all liability against defendants for wrongful death are denied."
As reported previously on this blog, a second suicide at Belmont was detailed in a state inspection report. In that case an unnamed patient hung himself. The state cited Belmont for multiple deficiencies including lack of staff and failure to have facilities designed to prevent suicides.
In fact state inspectors declared a state of imminent danger when they visit in early November of last year.