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Death in Bronx Shows Vulnerability of State’s Nursing Home Residents

Unable to see clearly and afflicted with dementia, Frank Mercado, 77, depended completely on the care provided by the small nursing home in the Bronx where he had lived for four years. But last Monday, as Mr. Mercado cried for help, a veteran employee beat him to the ground, where he was impaled on a sharp metal protrusion from an overturned table, according to prosecutors.

Mr. Mercado died hours after the beating, and on Monday, the Bronx district attorney’s office said the employee, Cherrylee Young, 41, had been charged with negligent homicide, fatal assault and endangering the welfare of an adult.

The death, which was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner, underscores the vulnerability of frail nursing home residents in New York State, where rates of substandard care, neglect and abuse are high, according to national studies. Advocates for elderly and disabled residents complain that state enforcement has dwindled in recent years, even as private companies have been on a buying spree, acquiring nonprofit facilities and often cutting staff to enhance profit margins.

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