2004-08-20 / Front Page

Runaway Still Missing From Nursing Home

The Far Rockaway nursing home resident who disappeared last Tuesday afternoon is still missing, and the attorney representing the family of a woman who froze to death on the facility’s rooftop in February is demanding state intervention at the facility.

Donald King, 75, a resident of the Bishop Charles Waldo MacLean Episcopal Nursing Home, left the adjoining St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, located at 327 Beach 19 Street, sometime between 2:25 p.m., when he was escorted to the emergency room for tests, and 6 p.m., according to hospital spokesperson Penny Chin. Staff workers searched the hospital and the surrounding area while a separate crew canvassed a specific spot in Manhattan based on information that is part of King’s patient history. Chin, citing patient privacy, declined to comment further.

It was clear, however, that staff at both facilities were aware of King’s history as an eloper, or runaway.

“He was known to be somebody who would take off,” said Melissa Krantz, a spokesperson for Episcopal Health Services.

There is a question over how long it took hospital staff to notify the authorities. The police report says the NYPD was called in shortly before midnight, according to a department spokesperson. Chin says the 101 Precinct was given a photograph and description of King six hours earlier.

Both facilities are asking for anyone with information regarding King’s whereabouts to call the NYPD Missing Persons Unit at 212-473-2042.

The attorney representing the family of Lillie Gardner – the 79-year-old Alzheimer’s patient who froze to death in a shallow rooftop pool of snow and ice – is making a different call this week. Kenneth Mallins fired off a letter to the New York State Attorney General’s office on Wednesday loaded with details of alleged incidents of negligence and a plea for action. In the letter, Mallins says King’s disappearance is “a result of the lack of staffing” at the hospital. The nurse who escorted King from the home to the hospital emergency room was ordered by her supervisor to drop him off and return immediately, Mallins alleges.

“A month or so ago, WCBS TV entered the nursing home with a hidden camera and filmed the only staff member on the floor sleeping at the nurse’s station. That staff member had previously been fired for sleeping on the job, yet she was re-hired and put into a position of patient responsibility,” Mallins said before finishing his letter by asking, “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?”

King’s family could not be reached for comment. The Gardner family is seeking $10 million in damages in their suit against the nursing home.

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