Mike Scinta of Brown Chiari spoke with WIVB News Channel 4’s Dave Greber regarding the State’s findings in the death of Ruth Murray

State: Nursing home’s failure to ‘provide adequate care’ led to beating death

Watch the full interview

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The New York State Department of Health cited Emerald South Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for failing to provide adequate care to its residents, specifically, the 84-year-old dementia patient who beat Ruth Murray to death last August. Those are regulations are in place to keep residents, like the 82-year-old Murray safe.

Instead, the department of health says the nursing home’s negligence is the reason Murray was attacked after wandering into the man’s room on Aug. 26.  As a result of its investigation, the state leveled its stiffest fine — $10,000 — against the facility.

News 4 is not naming Murray’s attacker because he was never charged with a crime.

Mike Scinta, of the Brown Chiari law firm, represents the Murray family.

“What we see here is they failed both residents,” Scinta said. “They failed not only Ms. Murray, who suffered the fatal injuries, but they also failed the attacker because he was supposed to be watched as well every 15 minutes, which clearly did not happen.”

A News 4 investigation into Murray’s death found Emerald South repeatedly violated state and federal regulations, which led to the facility’s one-star rating.

But the vast majority of residents at the home on Delaware Avenue receive Medicaid or Medicare, and former employees say the facility has a heads-in-beds approach — keep the rooms full and the money flowing.

An investigation into the beating death of Murray by the department of health found multiple deficiencies.

“This family has been devastated by the manner in which their mother died,” Scinta said. “And to see a report like this, and to know that there’s ongoing systemic problems in the facility, it makes them very angry and very frustrated with the fact that this facility can do this time and time again.”

The department of health found Emerald South did not ensure each resident received adequate supervision to prevent accidents. As one example, they failed to check on Murray’s attacker every 15 minutes, which was part of his care plan.

The department’s investigation found the CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) who was assigned to Murray’s attacker on the day of the beating was out of the building running an errand for her team leader, and the next time she laid eyes on the man was after the incident.

“The facility chooses to under staff itself,” Scinta said. “They don’t have enough hands on deck to take care of the residents, and in turn what happens is things get missed or ignored, and simply not done. And people aren’t protected. Because of their failures, Ms. Murray is now dead.”

When it came to reporting the fatal beating to authorities, Emerald South failed three as well, the state report showed.

The department of health wasn’t notified about the incident until Aug. 28th, two days after it happened — when the report said they should have been notified within 24 hours.

Buffalo attorney Richard Sullivan represents Emerald South, but has not returned repeated calls for comment about the state’s investigation or the impending lawsuit by attorneys representing Murray’s family.

Willie Faulkner lived across the street from the 84-year-old man.

Faulkner cared for his neighbor, and was ultimately one of the reasons why he was sent to Emerald South after he could no longer care for himself.

“That’s not the type of facility that I would go to if I had to go to one,” said Faulkner, who visited his neighbor and other residents at Emerald South.

It’s a place Faulkner says he remembered all too well for all the wrong reasons.

“The day that I went in, he was in the room with nothing,” Faulkner said of his visit with his neighbor. “He didn’t have anything. There was nothing on the bed. He may have had a pillow behind him, but it didn’t have a pillow case on it. It didn’t have no sheets on the bed, no nothing on the bed. No dresser.

“There was nothing. Bare walls and a bed. And his robe from the hospital,” he added.

There were other deficiencies about the facility’s care of Murray and her attacker, some of which were not connected with the violent incident.

The state found Emerald South had no documented evidence of an admission agreement for Murray’s attacker, which is a state requirement.

The department’s investigation led them to the nursing home’s business office, where a female employee told the investigator Murray’s attacker’s agreement “fell to the wayside,” and that she was “very busy because she was working for both buildings.”

“We know that this is pervasive throughout the facility because of their failure to staff the facility and their failure to follow the care plans, other residents are affected, and other residents in that building are at risk,” Scinta said.

“They want heads in beds, and they want to keep their facilities full, and that’s the way they operate their business,” he said. “But in doing that, in exchange of that, they have to have enough people there to properly care for these individuals.”