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Nursing facility indicted for abuse, neglect in patient's death

A Montrose skilled nursing facility has been indicted, along with its former administrator, on charges of felony abuse and neglect in the death of a mentally ill patient, authorities said Monday.

A Los Angeles grand jury handed down the indictments last month against Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre and Phyllis Paver, the center’s former administrator. An arraignment took place Friday, with a trial scheduled for Sept. 6, according to a statement released Monday by state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris.

In January, 2009, the center admitted Charles Morrill, 34, who was suicidal and had a history of mental illness. The facility lacked staff and training to care for mentally ill patients, according to the statement.

Morrill attempted suicide by firing a fire extinguisher into his mouth and by wheeling himself out into a street, trying to be hit by a car, according to a report on the website for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. Each time, he was hospitalized, then accepted back to Verdugo Valley.

He finally committed suicide -- by again firing a fire extinguisher into his mouth -- a month after his initial admission to the facility, according to Harris’ statement.

Although Verdugo Valley remains open, it will lose its license and federal funding if there is a felony conviction in the case, according to Harris’ statement.

A Verdugo staffer said officials of the center were not available for comment late Monday.

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-- Sam Quinones

 
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