SAN FRANCISCO --- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the indictments of Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre and its former administrator on charges of felony abuse and neglect after the death of a patient.
“Skilled nursing facilities and other health care institutions should honor the trust that is placed in them or they will face consequences,” Attorney General Harris said.
A Los Angeles County criminal grand jury handed down the indictments in June, saying the actions of the facility and Phyllis Paver, the former administrator, caused the death of Charles Morrill. The arraignment was held on Friday, July 8 and the trial will begin on September 6, 2011.
The indictments stem from the admission of Charles Morrill, a suicidal 34-year-old man, to a skilled nursing facility which lacked the staff and training to care for him.
On January 22, 2009, Phyllis Paver, the administrator at Verdugo accepted Morrill as a resident at the facility. Morrill had a long history of psychiatric illness, including suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Paver knew Morrill’s psychiatric history when she accepted him as a resident, but the facility is not equipped to handle individuals with mental illness. Further, the staff lacks the training, education or ability to take on this kind of resident.
While in the facility, Morrill attempted suicide twice, was hospitalized and then accepted back into the facility. His third suicide attempt while at the facility was successful.
Verdugo Valley remains open while the charges are being prosecuted. If there is a conviction on the felony count, the facility will lose its license and federal funds.
The indictments charged Verdugo Valley and Phyllis Paver with one count each of felony Dependant Adult Abuse and Neglect Resulting in Death of victim Charles Morrill in violation of Penal Code Section 368(b)(1). The grand jury also found true the special allegation that Verdugo Valley’s and Phyllis Paver’s actions proximately caused the victim’s death, in violation of Penal Code Section 368(b)((3)(A).