2004-11-05 / Front Page

Comatose Patient’s Death Ruled A Homicide

By Brian Magoolaghan

  • The man who authorities say was murdered at a local hospital when his ventilator was intentionally switched off in August could have been killed by anyone from a visitor to a flower delivery guy, a hospital spokesperson told The Wave.
  • “It’s a hospital not a prison. People come and go,” said Melissa Krantz, a spokesperson for St. John’s Episcopal Hospital. “Any number of people have access to hospital patients: [other] patients, family – flower delivery.”

    Police still aren’t sure who manually turned off the ventilator of Jerome L. Grant, 61, of 250 Beach 17 Street back on August 18. A staff worker last saw Grant, who was comatose following a heart attack, alive at about 8 a.m., Krantz confirmed. An hour later, a nurse discovered that he had no pulse and was not breathing, according to police.

    The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Grant’s death a homicide this week and police launched a full investigation – interviewing family and hospital staff, in what could turn out to be a plotline ready-made for television.

    “Somebody turned off his ventilator and caused him to die,” said Ellen Borakove, spokesperson for the M.E.’s Office. Grant was in a “persistent vegetative state” and died from the “manual turn-off” of his ventilator, according to his death certificate.

    Krantz said the hospital is cooperating with police investigators but declined to comment on specifics. She downplayed the possibility of an “angel of mercy” working at the hospital and said she was unaware of any similar incidents there.

    Grant’s family could not be reached for comment and the phone number associated with his address was out of service.

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