Assemblyman demands Federal probe after Rome maggot case garners national spotlight

ROME, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - A New York State Assemblyman is calling for a Federal investigation after a report in a national publication shined a light on the case of a man in a Rome facility whose trach had twice been found filled with maggots.

State Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi says that earlier this year he looked for details regarding the case of Steve Wenger - a permanently disabled patient who cannot speak or breathe on his own.

Brindisi says the facility told him an investigation had been launched and then the case was closed.

The Wenger case re-surfaced last week, however, when an Associated Press report revealed that, on two occasions, maggots had been found crowded around the breathing tube in his throat.

The alarming case prompted Brindisi to write a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price demanding an investigation into state-run healthcare in New York.

“This kind of situation could only present itself after days of neglect, according to medical experts,” Brindisi wrote.

The Associated Press said it was able to obtain a confidential report about the case, but noted that New York is one of many states in which abuse and neglect cases at state facilities are “almost never made public, even with the names blacked out.”

Brindisi is asking the Federal government to investigate not only the Rome facility, but other similar facilities run by New York State, which “have generated over 4,000 substantiated cases of abuse and neglect last year alone.”

Click here to read the Associated Press piece.

Read Brindisi’s entire letter below:

Dear Secretary Price,

I write today with great urgency as it concerns the State of New York and its long-term care medical facilities, like one in Rome New York that the Associated Press just detailed in a bombshell story that highlighted troubling conditions and patient neglect. I have included a print-out of this story with this letter.

As you can see, the patient, Steve Wenger, was left permanently disabled, unable to speak or breathe on his own ever since a car accident 26 years ago. He breathes only because he is connected to a tracheostomy. It has been revealed that—more than once—this tracheostomy was infested with maggots. This kind of situation could only present itself after days of neglect, according to medical experts.
Therefore, the reason for this letter is to urge your agency to take a deeper look in to the way New York State runs this Rome facility, and others under its purview that have generated over 4,000 substantiated cases of abuse and neglect last year alone.

Your agency can and should lead the way at cracking down on abuse and neglect in facilities like these because patients are unable to speak for themselves. Situations like these, and New York’s own secret-keeping, are why we need the federal government and why your leadership on this critical issue is so important to America.

I urge you to, again, read the story herein and feel free to reach out to me with any questions. I have sought my own answers on this case and will continue to look for ways I can hold New York State’s feet to the fire, but New Yorkers could sure use your help.

A swift and comprehensive investigation by you and your team would surely get the ball rolling, while giving so many families facts they deserve.

Sincerely,

Anthony Brindisi
Member, New York State Assembly


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