Nursing Home Owners Charged With Deaths Of 34 Residents
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 14, 2005
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA--Louisiana's Attorney General filed 34 counts of negligent homicide Tuesday against a husband and wife who own a nursing home in which residents and staff members drowned during Hurricane Katrina.
If convicted, Salvador and Mable Mangano could face up to five years in prison for each count.
Attorney General Charles Foti said that the owners of St. Rita's nursing home in St. Bernard Parish could have done more to save the residents in their care. Instead, they turned down offers from local officials to transport the residents by bus, and failed to call an ambulance service with which they had a contract, he said.
"Thirty-four people drowned in a nursing home when it should have been evacuated," Foti said. "I cannot say it any plainer than that."
"The pathetic thing in this case was that they were asked if they wanted to move them and they did not," he said of the Manganos. "They were warned repeatedly that this storm was coming. In effect, their inaction resulted in the deaths of these people."
James Cobb, a lawyer for the owners, said the Manganos told family members that they could remove residents if they wanted to do so.
"What people have to understand is, you're presented with a horrible choice," Cobb said. "You take people who are on feeder tubes, who are on oxygen, who are on medications and you put them on a bus to go 70 miles in 12 hours? People are going to die, people are going to die, we know that."
On Sunday, September 4, Aaron Broussard, president of neighboring Jefferson Parish, spoke passionately about a resident of St. Rita's nursing home when he appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press". Parish spoke of an emergency official in his parish who had spoke repeatedly by phone to his mother in the facility.
"She called him and said 'are you coming, son, is somebody coming?' And he said 'yeah Mama, somebody's coming to get ya, somebody's coming to get ya on Tuesday, somebody's coming to get ya on Wednesday . . . and she drowned Friday night," Broussard recounted, breaking into tears.
Foti said he is also investigating the flooded Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans, where the bodies of 44 patients who had been critically ill were discovered.
A hospital official said that none of the patients were alive when the building was evacuated several days after the storm.
An unknown number of people with disabilities perished in the path of Hurricane Katrina. Some were not able to get out of the way of the wind or the storm surge because of transportation or accessibility problems, or to get to upper floors of their homes. Many who survived the hurricane itself later died because of a lack of water, food, medications, or electricity to run important life-sustaining devices.
Help continues to pour in for hurricane survivors with disabilities and their families. Groups representing nearly every type of disability are lending their support.
"Homicide charges filed in hurricane deaths; toll rises" (Reuters)
Other Hurricane Katrina disability-related articles and resources: