A resident of the Brookside Manor nursing home in Centralia, Illinois escaped from the facility and walked over two miles to lay down on a set of train tracks. The suicide attempt proved unsuccessful when police found him prior to the arrival of a train.
This was far from the man’s first attempt at suicide. Months before, he stabbed himself in the abdomen seven times, but failed to strike a vital organ. You might be asking yourself why the resident was in a nursing home when a psychiatric ward seems to be a more fitting residence.
The answer is complicated, and it’s one of the biggest issues in nursing home care.
In decades past, mental illness was rarely diagnosed the same way it is today, but it existed just the same. Many of these conditions, schizophrenia for example, are diseases that wax and wane.
In the past, when police found someone who was having a mental issue, they would take them to a hospital rather than a jail. Many hospitals had psychiatric wards with beds that could be occupied for short periods of time.
This service, while valuable, was not profitable. Obviously, these people were unable to pay for their hospital stay, and many hospitals began to cut the number of hospital beds. With fewer hospital beds, and long waits for group homes, the solution has been to house the mentally ill within nursing homes.
Nursing homes only need to have 50% of their population be over 65 in order to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. Rather than being filled with frail elderly residents, many nursing homes are now housing young, physically capable residents with known mental problems.
Nursing homes are supposed to employ enough staff to handle any situation, but readers of this blog know that resident on resident violence is a growing and disturbing trend in nursing home neglect lawsuits. In this case, the resident only sought to harm himself. That’s fortunate for the rest of the residents of that facility.
Clearly, a nursing home unaware that a resident in their care has wandered from the facility and is attempting to be run over by a train is not upholding their obligations to any of the residents in the facility.