Rare photos, interviews honor 8 nurses slain by Richard Speck in 1966

Editor's note: This story was first published on April 28, 2016, and is being republished to mark the 50th anniversary of the murders. A couple of days after his basement flooded, John Schmale finally mustered the energy to head downstairs and investigate the damage.In the basement's dim overhead light, a big, brown cardboard box caught his eye, a box so soggy its bottom was ready to fall out. He lugged it upstairs. He opened it.Inside sat four square, off-white boxes labeled "Kodak," and on top of them lay a sheet of thin pink paper. He instantly recognized his mother's cursive handwriting.With a rush of excitement and a pang of dread, he read her penciled note: "Nina South Chicago Hospital."Nina. His little sister. One of eight young nurses killed in a Chicago townhouse on July 14, 1966, by a man who became notorious: Richard Speck."I don't believe this," Schmale said to his wife on that day half a century later, gazing inside the box. "What do I have here?"What he had, in this mysterious box he had inherited when his father died, were four carousels of slides, many of them corroded, warped, moldy, ravaged by water and time. He unearthed his ancient 35 mm slide projector, marveled that the bulb still worked and began projecting images on a wall.There, next to his kitchen near the village of Mahomet, 140 miles south of Chicago, the lost women flickered back to life.Clicking from slide to slide, Schmale stepped into his sister's vanished world. It was a world of hair curlers, hair spray cans, ashtrays, manual typewriters, textbooks, sheath dresses, corsages, cluttered rooms, a place where young women laughed, hugged, studied, ate, teased each other's hair.He couldn't identify everyone he saw, but at the photo of the familiar woman in the familiar yellow two-piece bathing suit, he felt his heart clench.It hurt to see Nina in her yellow swimsuit — he thought back to the Life magazine photo after the murders that showed it hanging on a rod in her bedroom Continue Reading

Nurse sexually assaulted by patient at hospital

A patient at UPMC Mercy Hospital was charged with aggravated assault and indecent assault following an alleged attack on a nurse. According to the police criminal complaint obtained by Channel 11, the patient is Gary Lee Day, of Swissvale, and the assault was unprovoked. UPMC police say it happened early Saturday morning when the nurse went to answer a call light for Day, who was in a hospital room on the 10th floor. Here is what the nurse, who we are not identifying, told police about the assault: “Without warning, (Day) grabbed her, threw her on the bed, ripped her bra completely off her body, got on top of her, dug his nails into her back. She screamed for help.” When police interviewed the alleged victim in the emergency room, they said they saw visible scratches on her body. Because of laws protecting patient confidentiality, officials at UPMC told Channel 11 they cannot comment on whether Day is still hospitalized in their facility but said patient and visitor safety is a priority. Day was charged at the end of January with public intoxication, a misdemeanor. He had no violent criminal history. Continue Reading

Saturday Letters: If you want more nurses, start by having more respect for their profession

MEDICAL COSTS SOMETHING’S NOT RIGHT I just received a billing record from my insurance company that revealed that while a local hospital charged me 2,017.09 for treatment, they were paid 229.88 — and that I owed nothing because the insurance company had negotiated a lower charge. But what about for those who don’t have good insurance? For them, the likely result is bankruptcy and a ruined credit rating. This is wrong Jim Weir, Penney Farms ^ OUR NURSING SHORTAGE WHY IT EXISTS Once again the news is full of stories about the “nursing shortage.” I’d like to comment on why this shortage exists. I’ve seen bedside ratio staffing patterns go from mediocre to bad to worse; from unmanageable to sometimes downright unsafe. The reluctance to hire certified nursing assistants to do basic bedside chores is puzzling. Since reimbursement is tied to patient satisfaction scores, why not do more at the bedside level? Instead hospitals have become middle-heavy with quality management initiatives and well-meaning folks. But they are not at the bedside dealing with critically ill patients and their often-belligerent families. Regarding the issue of equal pay, if nursing was considered a “male” profession, the salaries would be much higher and much more commensurate with the education, workload and critical thinking skills required. But it is still viewed as a “helping” profession that women pursue to augment the husband’s salary. I’ve read that there are not enough nursing instructors to meet the growing need for nurses. For approximately the same amount of post-graduate education, a registered nurse can become an independent nurse practitioner for at least double the salary. For the time and money involved, this is not a difficult decision. Like the saying goes: “Follow the money.” Ruthann Strebler, registered nurse ^ THE RIGHT TO VOTE EX-FELONS Continue Reading

NYC psych ward worker who was attacked by patient says she can’t bear idea of returning to job as violent residents go unpunished

Kennetta Allen says she can’t stomach going back to her job in the psychiatric center at Kings County Hospital since she suffered a vicious attack at the hands of a patient in March. Allen, 47, tried to stop the 23-year-old from using a table like a vise to pin an elderly patient against a wall. When she intervened, the man erupted, hurled a chair at her head and repeatedly punched her in the face. The March 28 assault left Allen with four stitches in her mouth and a great deal of hesitation about returning to her job as a patient care associate. “I think somebody may get killed on the floor,” said Allen, who has worked at the Brooklyn psychiatric center for six years but remains on leave since the attack. She and a colleague, clinical psychologist Ben Adams, told the Daily News they’re concerned administrators at the city hospital’s Behavioral Health Center allow patients to attack each other and staff with impunity. “They learn that they can assault people without consequences,” Adams said. “And they are going to continue doing that in their residences and in their shelters.” To make matters worse, the two say hospital administrators prevent victims from filing criminal charges. In Allen’s case, she says she filed a report with the hospital police. The report says that she wanted to press charges against the patient — whose name, like others in this story, is being withheld because of medical privacy considerations. However, she says the officers told her the psychiatric ward’s administrators had to approve an arrest. They didn’t. The man who allegedly assaulted Allen instead stayed in the ward for eight more days until he was discharged and returned to a homeless shelter. Adams, 42, said hospital bosses blocked him from filing charges when a patient kicked him in the knees in August 2015. The woman Continue Reading

Nurse at Brookdale University Hospital in critical condition after being beaten by patient

A patient at Brookdale University Hospital in Brooklyn viciously beat a 69-year-old nurse when she came to check on him Friday, leaving the woman with life-threatening injuries, officials said. The patient, Kwincii Jones, 40, lunged at Evelyn Lynch as she approached his bedside at about 4:30 p.m. , police sources said. Another nurse later investigated an intercom alert that was coming from Jones’ room and found the suspect “stomping on Lynch’s head,” one police source said. “He beat the crap out of her,” the police source said. “He jumped out of bed and stomped on her. She was bleeding from the head.” Lynch was rushed to Kings County Hospital where she underwent brain surgery Friday night. She was listed in critical condition. Jones had been admitted to the hospital on Linden Blvd. in East Flatbush on Wednesday after complaining of stomach pains, police sources said. It was not immediately clear what prompted the attack. Hospital security took Jones into custody and handed him over to police, who took him to the 67th Precinct station house for questioning. He was placed under arrest, and charges against him were pending, sources said. Calls to Brookdale University Hospital for comment were not immediately returned. [email protected] Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Attacks on Ancora employees declining

WINSLOW - Employees at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital are punched, kicked, knocked over and sometimes knocked out by patients. But a Courier-Post analysis of public records shows such assaults are declining following a state investigation.In May 2013, as injuries climbed, an employee filed a complaint with the state Department of Labor about the hospital’s dangerous workplace conditions. The state hospital was cited for its inability to appropriately respond and manage violent disturbances and for its failure to conduct annual reviews of its violence prevention plan.After Ancora organized a violence prevention committee and began conducting monthly reviews, it found 19 patients were responsible for a large number of the assaults in 2013. Those patients received particular attention from their treatment teams. Training policies also were updated.As a result, records show the incidents of employees injured in patient attacks dropped from 141 incidents in 2013 to 63 in the first 10 months of 2015.That’s good news for staff, said Phil Lubitz, associate director of National Alliance on Mental Illness New Jersey and chairman of the state’s Behavioral Health Planning Council.“We’re hopeful the same trend holds true for the safety of patients,” Lubitz added, “but unless the division is more open in their reporting, families remain concerned about the safety of their loved ones in the hospital.”Ancora briefly lost its Medicaid certification this year after failing repeat inspections. The state removed the hospital's top three administrators in June and named Christopher Morrison, former deputy CEO of Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, to lead the troubled hospital in Camden County. The state has declined repeated requests to interview Morrison about reform efforts.The Courier-Post filed Open Public Records Act requests with the state Department of Labor and Workforce Continue Reading

Kings County Hospital psychiatric ward is marred after nursing assistant is beaten unconcious

The scandal-tarred Kings County Hospital psychiatric ward is under the microscope again after a nursing assistant was beaten unconscious Tuesday by an out-of-control patient. The brutal attack on Sandra Douglas - which left her in intensive care - came just days after the the same patient, Robert Rush, 24, attacked two other staff members and a patient, said outraged staffers and family members. "They need more security there. Employees shouldn't be risking their lives just going to work," said Douglas' son, 22-year-old Demar Simms, who kept vigil at her bedside and wept as she lay unresponsive. "This is what he did to her!" Staffers said Rush, who weighs more than 300 pounds, walked into a room where Douglas, 49, was attending to another patient about 5:30 a.m. and clocked her in the head. When she fell, he repeatedly kicked and hit her, witnesses said. "He was just beating on her, banging her head on the floor," said Simms, who was briefed on the attack by hospital officials and other staffers. "It took four people to get him off her." When help arrived, Douglas staggered to the hall, where she collapsed, he said. "She was unconscious," said a co-worker who witnessed the attack and said the hospital issued a distress code that summoned emergency workers to revive her. Doctors said it could take weeks for Douglas to recover from the head trauma. Rush was arrested shortly after the attack and charged with assaulting three people in connection with Tuesday's incident, according to the NYPD. Staffers said Rush assaulted a nurse and administrator Sunday after they tried to stop him from beating another patient. Hospital officials confirmed Rush attacked two staffers and a patient that day but was not charged. "We can't wait until people die here. He hurt two people already on Sunday," said Douglas' sister, Audrey, 52. Health and Hospitals Corp. spokeswoman Pamela McDonnell said officials are investigating and have instituted changes to Continue Reading

A sick attack on David Paterson: The health care lobby, not governor, is to blame for latest cuts

It's fitting that the hospital industry unveiled its new attack ads yesterday, on Groundhog Day.Just like Bill Murray's weatherman in the classic movie, we're doomed to watch the same inane show over and over again. Year after year, the governor tries to rein in skyrocketing Medicaid costs that threaten to break the bank. Year after year, hospitals and nursing homes fight back with scare tactics, claiming that even modest cuts will cause patients across New York to suffer. Year after year, the Legislature caves to the pressure - and then the cycle starts over. The latest wrinkle in this merry-go-round is a TV commercial produced by the Greater New York Hospital Association and the health care workers union SEIU 1199. It features a variety of patients and hospital workers indignantly and falsely charging that Gov. Paterson's budget-balancing plan will trigger closures of hospitals and nursing homes. One visually impaired man in a wheelchair asks the governor, "Why are you doing this to us?" It takes a lot of chutzpah to spend millions of dollars on a slick ad campaign complaining about how hard up for money you are. It takes even more to imply that Paterson, who is legally blind, is betraying the disabled. But what's really shameless is trying to blame Paterson for the industry's own management failures. The guy in the wheelchair - along with every other New Yorker - has every reason to be outraged at the bloated, inefficient, top-heavy condition of New York's health care system. But he's sending his accusatory question in the wrong direction. It's not Paterson's fault if the industry can't make ends meet when New York's incredibly generous Medicaid program annually spends $2,283 per patient, more than double the national average of $1,026. The ones to blame are the hospital and nursing home managers - some of them pulling down seven-figure salaries - who have failed for years to keep up with industry standards of efficiency. To cite but one example, patients who Continue Reading

Cyber-attacker ‘bombs’ Memphis medical records, seeks ransom

Some Russian-speaking individual or entity somehow got the log-in and password for the Primary Care Specialists' computers on Feb. 27, when the cyber-attackers accessed the servers holding thousands of patient medical records.The access lasted less than five minutes, but that was long enough for the invaders to encrypt all the information in the two old data servers, essentially rendering many years' worth of records unreadable and unusable to the family-medicine practice at 3109 Walnut Grove, said Adam Berkenstock, information technology manager there.The still-anonymous criminals offered to give the medical office keys to make the encrypted information readable again, but in return for a ransom of thousands of dollars, Berkenstock said.They instructed that the money be converted and delivered as bitcoins, the digital currency that flows through no central authority. Primary Care Specialists refused to pay, Berkenstock said. The practice notified the federal Health & Human Services for an investigation.In the scripted, or automated ransom ransom message, the attackers did not make reference to the patients' private health information. But in the short time of access, "they got on and set off a 'bomb' that encrypted gigabytes of information,'' Berkenstock said.The affected information includes historical medical records dating before about 18 months ago, when the 25-year-old practice had switched over to a new data system. So, records involving new patients or patient visits over the past year-and-a-half are not affected.The practice will be able to work around the loss of the older records, Berkenstock said. "We can still request information about patients from other doctors, if that's what's needed,'' he said."And beyond that, the practice has changed a lot since (18 months ago). About two years ago, we serviced five or six nursing homes. We don't service those nursing homes Continue Reading


FLORENCE CARRINGTON'S family had her admitted to a Bronx nursing home so she could recover from hip replacement surgery. But instead of receiving quality treatment at the facility, they charge, the 83-year-old contracted severe bed sores and infections that led to a leg amputation and her eventual death. Carrington's daughter has filed a lawsuit in the Bronx against the Morningside House Nursing Home on Pelham Parkway, claiming her mother died because of a lack of care and treatment by the nursing home. The nursing home denies the allegations, saying the elderly woman, who was transferred into the facility for rehabilitation, came there with "a multitude of medical problems." "My mother went into the nursing home after her hip replacement," said 45-year-old Yvette Carrington. "She was in good spirits and full of life, but I noticed bed sores. I complained about it, but nobody listened. "Suddenly, I was told she had to have her leg amputated and shortly after that, she died," she continued. "The nursing home neglected my mother. I spoke up many times about the lack of care, but my mother was afraid that the nurses would treat her badly if I said too much." Morningside's attorney Steve Weiner said Carrington came to the nursing home for rehabilitation, but with many other medical problems, heart disease and a seizure condition. "The patient had preexisting medical conditions, which made it complicated for her to heal," Weiner said. Carrington's case is one of more than 100 similar lawsuits around the city and Long Island filed by lawyers David Grossman and Dennis Kelly, who charge there are not enough employees at nursing homes to provide proper care. "Florence Carrington's sores looked like she had been attacked by a shark," Kelly said. "We believe that as a result of lack of total care, in this case, she got infections that couldn't heal." Grossman and Kelly have lawsuits pending against some of the most popular nursing homes in the city, Continue Reading