Attorney General Josh Shapiro Announces Felony Charges against Nurse in Death of Herbert R. McMaster, Sr.
84-Year-Old Man Died at Cathedral Village after Not Receiving Required Care for 8 Hours Following a Fall
PHILADELPHIA — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced criminal charges against a nurse for failing to provide care to a patient of the senior living facility Cathedral Village in Upper Roxborough. The patient, Herbert R. McMaster, Sr., 84, was left in the lobby of the facility and died 8 hours after suffering a fall and serious head injury.
Christann Gainey, 30, of Earp Street, Philadelphia, was taken into custody this morning and charged with neglect of a care-dependent person, involuntary manslaughter and tampering with records in connection with the April 13th death of Herbert R. McMaster, Sr.
Evidence revealed that Gainey failed to administer a total of eight required neurological checks to Mr. McMaster after he had an unwitnessed fall at the facility on the night of April 12th. These neurological checks could have indicated the severity of his injuries and steps could have been taken to save his life.
“When a family selects a senior living facility, they do not expect their loved one to be found dead in the lobby of a place that was supposed to be caring for him,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at today’s press conference in Philadelphia with Office of Attorney General prosecutors and an agent on the case. “This nurse ignored her job responsibilities, falsified paperwork, lied to her supervisors and neglected Mr. McMaster, who died.”
Mr. McMaster was admitted to Cathedral Village’s rehabilitation program on April 9th after recently suffering a stroke. Just three days after his admission, on April 12th at approximately 11:30 p.m., Cathedral Village staff found McMaster on the floor of his room after he suffered an unwitnessed fall.
Under Cathedral Village policy, frequent neurological assessments are required for patients who experience unwitnessed falls to identify any decline or change in their cognitive status and appropriate medical treatment can be sought if necessary. These checks consist of tests of motor and verbal skills, a measure of eye response to light and a check of vital signs.
At approximately 7:00 a.m. on April 13th, staff discovered that Mr. McMaster had died. He was in the lobby of the building in a wheelchair. Upon learning of Mr. McMaster’s death, the assistant director of nursing requested the neurological assessment paperwork from Gainey, which she was responsible for performing.
When Gainey provided the paperwork to facility staff, it was immediately apparent that the most recent check was reported at 7:20 a.m. – after Mr. McMaster’s time of death. When the assistant director of nursing questioned the time, Gainey admitted to falsifying the final check.
Working with Philadelphia police, Office of Attorney General agents reviewed surveillance video from the Cathedral Village lobby and determined Gainey did not perform a single neurological exam on Mr. McMaster following his fall.
The Philadelphia Chief Medical Examiner concluded the cause of death was blunt impact head trauma with a contributing factor being the untreated subdural hematoma, injuries consistent with an untreated head injury from a fall.
“She did not perform one – not one – neurological check on Mr. McMaster, and even lied on the paperwork that she did,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “The evidence shows that Gainey intentionally, knowingly and recklessly caused serious bodily injury to Mr. McMaster by failing to provide treatment or care. We will hold her – and anyone else who knowingly neglects a care-dependent person in Pennsylvania – accountable.”
The Office of Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Control Section’s Care-Dependent Neglect Team works aggressively with local and state authorities to root out and prosecute neglect of Pennsylvania seniors and care-dependent persons. The office has recently brought felony neglect and other charges against a Luzerne County charge nurse, a Berks County man, and an Erie County aid for failing to properly care for the individuals entrusted to their care.
Gainey was taken into custody this morning without incident and arraigned on the charges. The case will be prosecuted by the Neglect Team within the Office of Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Section.
Statement of the McMaster Family
“Our family is grateful for the work that the dedicated professionals of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and Philadelphia Police Department have done to investigate our father’s death and prosecute those responsible,” said Letitia McMaster, Mr. McMaster’s daughter. “Our father, Lieutenant Colonel Herbert R. McMaster (U.S. Army, retired), was a tough and compassionate soldier and public servant. He was committed to his neighbors, his fellow soldiers, his community and his country. The best way to honor his memory is for all of us to do all we can to prevent others from suffering at the hands of those who lack compassion and abandon even the most basic standards of human decency. Today’s charges are an important step forward in that connection.”
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