Authorities probe how patient got outside nursing home, died
BALLSTON SPA Authorities are re-examining whether a Maplewood Manor resident found dead outside the nursing home early Saturday morning climbed out a window, as first thought.
Both the village police department and the state Department of Health are continuing to investigate the death of Carlton Decker, 85, who had lived at the Saratoga County-run facility for several years.
An autopsy conducted Sunday at Saratoga Hospital attributed the death to heart attack, but an official report including a toxicology result will take up to 90 days to complete, Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III said Monday. Initial reports were that Decker exited his room by a second-story window onto the roof of a first-floor wing sometime prior to a 1 a.m. Saturday bed check — but Murphy said those first reports are now in question.
“Law enforcement authorities are now following up on a number of different leads that have been developed since the initial investigation,” he said in a statement. “Specifics as to what those leads are or what is being followed up on will not be disclosed at this time, since it is a pending investigation.”
Murphy met with members of the Ballston Spa Police Department on Monday morning to discuss the investigation.
Decker was found in an exterior courtyard, near a door, by staff who were looking for him after discovering he was absent during a routine bed check at 1 a.m. Saturday. The last previous check had been at 11 p.m. Friday, county officials said.
The state Health Department, which oversees care in all the state’s nursing homes, is also investigating the death.
“DOH is aware of the incident. DOH long-term care staff were on-site at the facility Saturday; the investigation is on-going,” Health Department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said in an email.
Murphy said it’s not appropriate to draw conclusions until the investigation is finished.
“We owe it to Mr. Decker and his family to carefully examine how exactly he got from his room to the courtyard,” Murphy said. “I suspect this and many more questions will be answered as we proceed. In the meantime, we need to be patient and let law enforcement professionals do their job.”
The 277-bed county infirmary has been at the center of public attention in recent months because of the county’s announced plans to start the process to sell the facility to a private buyer. A public hearing on the initial step of transferring ownership to a new local development corporation will be held Jan. 9 in the county boardrooms, across the street from Maplewood Manor.
County officials have said they must sell the nursing home because of its history in recent years of multimillion-dollar financial losses.