NY Daily News
By Jake Pearson
May 8, 2011
A Brooklyn mental hospital is a violence-wracked, dangerous place, rife with assaults and at least two deaths linked to paperwork snafus, the Daily News has learned.
Federal surveys and court documents paint a disturbing portrait at the state’s problem-plagued Kingsboro Psychiatric Center.
“Violence has become a way of life at KPC,” an independent mental health expert wrote in a Kingsboro-commissioned 2009 report after the hospital was sued in federal court.
“Patient and staff injury are a matter of course – it’s an expected part of the hospital routine,” wrote Dr. Jeffrey Geller of the University of Massachusetts.
He said the culture at the Flatbush hospital had become about “providing room, board and medication; and doing one’s best to stay out of harm’s way.”
The hospital failed four consecutive federal surveys by Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services – and withdrew from the federal funding program, losing $22.5 million in Medicaid funds.
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen. Everyone’s complaining, from doctors to nurses to social workers. What we have is management that is grossly incompetent,” one hospital source said. “We lost a lot of money.”
The findings and allegations in a still-pending suit filed by the Mental Hygiene Legal Service include:
- Two patients – called L1 and L2 in a January 2010 CMS report – may have died after paperwork mixups and “layers of bureaucracy” delayed their treatment. The patients had refused medicine or medical procedures, and the hospital dragged its heels in getting a judge to order the treatment.
A doctor for one of the patients told investigators the deaths were a “tough lesson” and demonstrated the need to “be more assertive and aggressive” in treating patients.
- Mental Hygiene lawyers said a “frail, nearly crippled 77-year-old woman with paralyzed vocal cords” was beaten badly by her roommate and suffered severe facial bruising.
- One patient, identified as Vadim B., was badly beaten by another patient, who then threatened to stab him to death.
A spokeswoman for the State Office of Mental Health insisted Kingsboro officials have taken steps since 2009 to quell the violence and improve care, like replacing clinical and leadership team members.
“Our reform efforts are ongoing,” spokeswoman Jill Daniels said.
Still, elected officials insist it’s time for new leadership at Kingsboro. “You have employees who are assaulted and patients with special needs – these are an extremely vulnerable group of people that are not getting the proper care they deserve,” said state Sen. Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn). “We are failing, but no one is willing to change leadership at the top.”
Fitzroy Wilson, president of the Civil Service Employees Association union local 402, said something needed to be done to end the violence at Kingsboro.
“Staff shortages and the lack of specific training are responsible for the patient violence and it interferes with proper patient care,” he said. “Violence at Kingsboro is rampant and widespread.”