An 81-year-old resident of Grosvenor Park Health Center nursing home shot and killed himself with his own legally registered handgun. Law enforcement and health authorities are investigating the shooting at the nursing home, which is owned by Synergy Health Centers. That New Jersey company has been the subject of a series of actions by regulators, who have imposed fines totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars following deaths and substandard care at other facilities.
Investigators say staff at Grosvenor Park Health Center knew of a reference a resident made to suicide a couple of days before he used a gun to take his life, a report on the findings indicates.
In the report’s findings, investigators noted that a family member had talked to the man by phone on Aug. 23, at which time they discussed “whether he/she would discharge home or remain in the facility for long-term care.” At that time, the man adds “that euthanasia was a third option.”
The family member relayed the man’s comments to a nurse, who then spoke with the resident about the comment. The nurse felt the family member had misunderstood the resident, according to the report.
That night, a physician allegedly met with the resident, adding that he “was fine, jovial, not depressed and not suicidal.” The physician later said he didn’t think monitoring by staff members was warranted, later adding that it wasn’t appropriate to “brow beat” a resident who made a statement suggestive of suicide when they might have had a “bad day.” That night, the man was found dead.
“One of the big questions is,” Salem Police Captain Conrad Prosniewski said, “what’s a gun doing in a nursing home?”
A 19-page report from the state Department of Health and Human Services and the national Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says Grosvenor Park failed to meet federal requirements on resident care.
A study published last year in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found only 113 nursing home suicides between 1949 and 2013 detailed in medical literature, mostly in the United States.
The researchers found most of those committing suicide were men 61 to 93 years old, and the vast majority hung themselves or jumped. Similarly, a study of New York nursing home deaths between 1990 and 2005 found 47 suicides, mostly due to “long falls,” and few by firearms.