Numerous media accounts of the tragic story of Army vet York Spratling appeared last month. It is a horrendous story and one we hear too often nowadays. York Spratling first checked into Consulate Health Care in December 2016 while suffering from diabetes. Walking and feeding himself was a struggle, making living on his own impossibly unrealistic.
The 84-year-old U.S. Army veteran’s pressing medical needs were blatantly ignored by the nursing home staff last year — and he died shortly after. Less than three months after being admitted to Consulate Health, Spratling’s condition took a terrible turn for the worse, and on Feb. 24, 2017, he was carried out of the nursing home on a stretcher and rushed to the emergency room. The ER trip, however, wasn’t the product of diabetic concerns.
Shortly after Spratling’s admission to the hospital, the doctor informed the family that York needed painful surgery to remove dead tissue from his genitals, which had been infected with gangrene. After the procedure to remove the rotten flesh, Spratling’s condition worsened exponentially. Soon after, York Spratling was dead.
The doctor said “he had never seen anything like that before, especially in this day and age,” York’s son Derwin Spratling said. “It really freaked us out.” Spratling’s condition was “way past obvious,” Derwin Spratling said. “This is so past obvious that it’s mind-blowing.”
“Everything was about to fall off, it was so rotten,” York Spratling’s brother, Obie, affirmed.
“Who was taking care of this man?” Spratling’s sister, Lula Price-Brown, asked. “His private area, nobody washed that.”
State investigators from Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, or AHCA, which oversees nursing home regulations, began looking into Spratling’s case in the aftermath of gross mismanagement and custodial neglect of a nursing home patient.
The AHCA had already cited the Consulate Health Care nursing home three times in the year leading up to the 84-year-old’s death, with each report pointing to inadequate staffing and an inability to provide even the most basic care for patients, such as bathing or hygiene.
Months before Spratling’s death, an unnamed patient at the same nursing home submitted an alarming complaint to AHCA inspectors, noting, “I have not had a shower in I don’t know how long,” according to the report.
When questioned about Spratling’s case, meanwhile, nursing home staff reportedly told state investigators that the stench emanating from his infection was so bad that it could be smelled from the doorway of his room. But despite the easily discernible health risk, staff members didn’t document or notify a doctor about the infection until a full five days after first noticing the odor, the report said.
Following his wrongful death, a subsequent report conducted by the Florida Department of Children and Families ruled that Spratling had indeed died due to “inadequate supervision and medical neglect.”
The AHCA, however, reportedly took no action against the facility despite the report’s pointed contents, thus allowing the nursing home’s conditions of patient squalor to persist.
Patient complaints have continued since Spratling’s death, with “neglect and inadequate staffing” principal among them. Eight months after York Spratling was rushed to the emergency room with rotting flesh, another patient told AHCA inspectors, “I wallow around in this bed in my own piss.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Gangrene refers to the death of body tissue due to either a lack of blood flow or a serious bacterial infection. Gangrene commonly affects the extremities, including your toes, fingers, and limbs, but it can also occur in your muscles and internal organs.”